Knowledge begets immortality seems to be the motto of Doorstep School. A NGO which has initiated a drive to name the streets of slums in Mumbai after the students who excel in studies. Yes, you read it right if the child performs well in the class a street is named after him/her. Students like Khushi Das – 3rd Grade topper, Anshika Gupta- Math and Science whiz, Rajan Das – 4th Grade Math whiz, Anita Rathod- 2nd grade All Rounder already have streets named after them. The only factor common in these children is their address. These children dwell in the lowly slums of Mumbai where life is confined in makeshift tents smelling of abject poverty. These slums being largest in Asia are evidence of society which has turned eyes from its responsibilities and moral obligations.
Education in Slums
India where education for underprivileged children is a rarity. Doorstep school has come up with this amazing idea to create role models thereby attracting more children to the schools. Children living in slums or pavement dwellers do not have access to basic amenities of life; leave alone any source of education. The rate of dropouts is highest attributed to responsibility of being a bread-earner quite early in their life. Parents too think education is waste of time as is commonly believed “Garib ka beta Garib hi rahega.”
Another reason for the low rate of education among these children is swelling costs of higher education. So the question remains widely unanswered and these children remain embroiled in the vicious pot of poverty generations after generations. While government agencies and other non-profit organisations have implemented measures to check this disturbing trend, these measures however remain baby steps in the backdrop of magnitude of this epidemic. Scholarship programs for meritorious students and even quotas have helped to allay the problem but these measures have not been able to attack the problem on larger magnitude leaving much to do desired for. Corruption and nepotism in education system also precipitates the situation to a dangerous predicament. Last but not the least, the most formidable barrier between children and education – lack of motivation.
Doorstep School Role Models
How do we address the issue then? Many other organisations in the past have employed various techniques like free meals, free books or sponsored college educations. All these approaches though successful in bringing these children to the doorstep of knowledge have failed to motivate the children to outperform the handicap (poverty and destitution) of their life. The answer may lie in Role Models. We all have role models in our life, be it some Bollywood superstar or sport celebrity. Similarly slum-dwelling children too get fascinated by celluloid personalities. These larger than life personalities while fascinating are like unreachable stars. The glamorous life of celebrities mitigates the sheer importance of hard-work and forcing us to look for shortcuts in life.
Celebrity Next Door
What if there is a celebrity who lives next door to you and lives exactly the way you live? And you can talk to that celebrity as normally as you would with your friends? The celebrity even dresses the way you dress or eats what you eat for your survival! If that celebrity is your friend and walks with you all the way to your home from school? If that is the possibility then what makes him the celebrity. It is the burning desire to break the ramshackle of poverty and penury. That is exactly what this NGO is striving hard to tap and channelise the immense potential of these children.
Doorstep School acknowledges the talent of such children and felicitates their hard-work by naming a street name on their name thus transforming these children from unknown to a local celebrity. This strategy has two pronged advantage,one is to motivate other children to excel in quest to become famous and other to attract more and more children to schools.
Innovative Approach at Doorstep School
Doorstep School with their novel approach has invariably helped to sculpt a bright future for these children and lift them from the vicious clutches of poverty and hardships. This tiny step in the service of mankind may become a tsunami of revolution which will turn the tables upside down and may produce CEOs, doctors, architects etc. as this world is rife with such stories of rags to riches.
We as responsible members of society have some meaningful role to play in development of the lesser mortals living in our neighborhood. Motivating them to pursue education and helping them chase their dreams is the least we can do. Education not only comprises formal learning. Making them aware of their rights and privileges can also educate them to a better living. An educated India will surely be a feat to boast of but most importantly this achievement will be a big catalyst in our enterprise for entering the league of developed nations.