Harash. He sits in the third row in the column of desks closest to the window. His best friend sits right behind him so sometimes he turns around to whisper with him. But Harash is also the strongest student in the class. He scored a 21/24 when most children didn't even hit 10 on his math exam. As each of the thirty other children struggled to meet the word limit on the writing assignment he completed lines extra. When he finished his work early he would turn backwards in his desk to help out his buddies or read a storybook when the teacher offered. Despite being a model student it took me a few days to notice him as any different. He was as rowdy as the fifteen other boys during break and rarely begged to be called on. When I brought up Harash's abilities to my fellow as I helped her grade papers, she replied "Oh yeah, he is the smartest boy in the class, but with all the other students struggling I can't really pay much attention to him."
As I sit on a long bus ride to south Mumbai, I am grappling with the question, "What can I do for Harash?"
Obviously, in some ways he is beating all the odds stacked against him. He is resilient. But how long can this continue?
The teachers speak of rising school fees each month, a cancelled school bus from a poor community where many of the students come from.
Harash is the future of India but he is only in the third grade. My fellow worries his high level now will lead to boredom and disinterest in school in the future. The issues of the school system stem far beyond catching children up. They also need to inspire children who could sprint ahead.