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    "I don't like your education."

    “I don’t like your education.” said the mother of Deepti (name changed) of Grade 3. That was the main concern amongst many others including financial conditions, mentioned by her when she handed me the application for Leaving Certificate of Deepti. I probed deeper. I had to.
    I was troubled with the reason given by the mother because Deepti, who had been with us for three years, was a rather shy girl. She was not just the quiet one. She was stone-like when she started her school in Grade 1. She had been to a pre-school where she was hit on the knuckles for not writing “properly” in Kindergarten. Her psyche had bruises and having her to just nod her head in class took us three months. With utmost patience, we got her to participate in the second year and now by Grade 3 she was really contributing to the class.
    And when I asked the mother to elaborate on what she meant by not liking our education, she pointed to the low grades Deepti had scored on the Asset test. She was right. Deepti had scored low. But there were a lot of factors other than the score that were on a high. And her mother agrees that Deepti has immensely improved as a personality, but quips, ‘you see, in the real world it is the marks that count’
    And I was devastated. Where is this real world? I want to see it. I don’t remember having hired a teacher just for her “marks”. I don’t remember having made a friend for her marks. Or a foe for the same. Which real world are we subjecting our children to? And why? Because we fear that our shortcomings will be inherited by them?
    Everyday Deepti comes to school with a sullen face and a troubled soul. It takes her 10 to 15 minutes every morning to let go of a cloak. Then she becomes her happy self. Chasing butterflies at times or running around with friends. But 10 minutes to home time and she is back again in that cloak. Weighed down by the sheer immensity of it.
    But she will now go to another school. Where they will have more “facilities” that we do not have as rightly pointed out by the parent. Where there will be more students in the class than the number of minutes a teacher can spend in the class. She will not be looked in the eye. She will be a roll number. She will undergo all the drills required of her.
    And she will see butterflies outside and will not blink. Because she will know she can’t run after them.
    We will see butterflies on our campus and we will sigh. For we know Deepti will not be chasing them.

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