Friday, February 16, 2007

Oprah's School

January 09, 2007 | 12:04 PM
Oprah's School

Sure, there is going to be a lot of critcism about the elitist nature of the enterprise, and about the immense amount of media coverage. But this one so obviously comes from Oprah's heart. She is welcome to India anytime. Do read Nikita's comment under "A Mother's letter from Noida" where she sees Oprah's actions as a mirrot to ourselves and asks if we are doing enough ourselves for the children in our communities. In India almost 50% of all children lack basic primary education. That is an awful figure for a country that aspires to be the next global power. I would like to share something my own driver told me ....

His four children live and go to a free goverment run primary school in a village in Maharashtra. However that's just in theory. The teachers rarely come to the school, or they send someone else, while they themselves are picking up the salary for teaching but in effect are working elsewhere. That someone else is not a teacher.

So the village got together and pooed resources and started their own school ! Which the parents themselves look after. Now they are trying to convince the state goverment to recognize the school. But in the meantime atleast the kids are getting decent education.

In India I know of so many people that have taken the responsibility of educating atleast one child. My father who was a pedriatician always had a few kids who's education he paid for. My mother spent years and years trying to create a school in Delhi for handicapped children. She suceeded just before she died. I do pay for the education of some children. Suchitra (my ex wife) goes every week to give singing lessons to street children in Mumbai. India is fairly generous like that.

The great thing about that is that instead of merely contributing in cash to an organization, you get to know the child and feel personally responsible. Could we all take repsonsibility for one child that is not our own, who's education and other financial needs we look after ?

Yet there are millions of children that you never hear of. They and their families live outside the system. They are what I call the forgotton people. You will never get in touch with them because they are just not integrated into what we call the Indian society. How do we reach out to them ?

How does any system reach out to them. It was these scores of children that were so brutally murdered in Delhi recently. It was these children who's bodies were cut up for their organs. It was these children's parents that begged and begged the police to help find their missing children. And they were just laughed at.

And all this not in some outlying unconnected village, but in the heart of India's capital city ???


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