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Read India: A lesson for the young and the old

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  • Shaji John K
    Read India: A lesson for the young and the old Maulshree Seth Lucknow, June 10: Surrounded by 15 children in a temple of an underdeveloped locality, Ashish
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2007
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      Read India: A lesson for the young and the old
      Maulshree Seth

      Lucknow, June 10: Surrounded by 15 children in a temple of an
      underdeveloped locality, Ashish Dubey achieved a benchmark of sorts
      today, when seven-year-old Aman walked in and asked: "Bhaiya, Kya
      yahan school chal raha hai, main bhi aa sakta hoon?"

      Ashish (23), pursuing his Masters degree in social work, had begun
      teaching the underprivileged local children just few days ago. But
      this was the first time a child had approached him, showing
      willingness to study.

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      The new boy, Aman, who was carrying two buckets of water, told
      Newsline: "I clean tempos and work occasionally with a tempo-driver. I
      never went to a school and was attracted by the clapping of these
      children. I do not know what they are doing but I wish to do it too."

      Ashish is not alone in teaching children like Aman. Over 2,500
      volunteers — students, housewives and senior citizens — have united to
      supplement the education of around 45,000 children in the state
      capital this summer as part of the "Read India" campaign. The campaign
      is being conducted by the voluntary organisation "Pratham".

      The recent Annual Status of Education Report shows only 58.5 per cent
      students in Class I & II can read alphabets or words. The national
      figures are 73.1 per cent. This initiative is expected to bridge the gap.

      The volunteers are provided with study material and posters. They
      select the area where they want to teach. Even those associated with
      the organisation have been surprised by the response.

      Vishal Sethi, project coordinator for "Read India" campaign told
      Newsline: "The number of volunteers are increasing by the day. Last
      week's figure was 2,500. We have even received calls from parents who
      want to teach these children and want their own children to teach
      too." In a few areas, there are entire families teaching.

      As for the students, some admitted to leaving schools because the
      teacher beat them up. Others, who still attend school, are unable to
      read properly because they do not get personal attention from the
      teacher, who has to handle five classes at a time. There were also
      children who said they never went to school because no one ever asked
      them to.

      "I go to Government Primary School in Purania but things are different
      here. It's like studying at home.

      Bhaiya has made us learn numbers through a song. It's real fun and
      even my two younger brothers who do not go to school have started
      coming with me," said Manoj, a student of Class III at a government
      primary School.
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