The Educational Key

We’ve been in Bombay for several days now. Before landing, we were in Ahmedabad, where we partnered with the Riverside school and worked both at the Gandhi Ashram and the Chandlodiya School, both government primary educational schools. There, we teamed up with Design for Change, and examined different aspects of the school systems. We looked at “bright spots” which were areas that the school generally did well. We also looked at “hot spots”, areas of the school that are in need of change. Different groups at their respected schools tackled hot spots such as sanitation in the bathrooms, low attendance, or a lackadaisical library. Over a four-day period we worked on these issues and tried to implement some aspect of change.

Throughout this project, I kept thinking, what will be the product of this? Will the children just look at their newly painted library and not read the books? Will they sing the sanitation songs they learned and not actually wash their hands? These questions are hard to answer because I’m probably never going to see any of those kids again. I’m never going to have the opportunity to speak with them without a translator and figure out what their favorite subject is. I’m never going to be able to track them down 10 years from now and find out what colleges they want to attend.

 We can’t have our kids growing up and saying, “I can’t do the things I wish to do because I was never afforded the opportunity as a child.”  With the amount of technology and accessibility we have in this world today, there is no excuse for the governments and those responsible for their children to not be putting them through education. This may be cliché, but its cliché because its true: education is the key. Last night at a Parthenon conference the speaker asked us to think about how much more quickly we can come up with the cure to things like diabetes or MS if we had a full task force working on it from around the world.  We need to educate as many people as possible so we can even the playing field and create the doors to equal opportunities to anyone pleading for them.

A series issue at public schools like Chandlodyia is that many of the kids don’t even come to school because past a certain age, they feel compelled to begin earning wages for their family. Which is illegal because of child labor laws. (Though when caught by law enforcement, many times they are let loose because the law would rather have them work and earn money than steal, its “illegally legal”.) An education is relatively far less important to those kids because they must provide for their family. It’s the perpetual cycle the many Indian families, and for that matter many other families around the globe, find themselves in a don’t know how to get themselves out either because they don’t realize the power of an education or do not know how to get their children through education while supporting a family.