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Where extra study is not a burden

Bageshree S.


All the students are from economically

and socially disadvantaged

sections


— Photo: K. Gopinathan

Eager learners: Students attending free tuition classes conducted by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Free Tuition Association, in Bangalore on Monday.

Bangalore: The day begins early and ends late for Sathya M. and her 30-odd classmates at the Corporation high school behind Deviah Park in Malleswaram.

They troop into class at 7.30 a.m. to attend mathematics, science and English tuitions conducted by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Free Tuition Association. Following this, they attend special classes taken by their teachers as part of the remedial teaching programme. After regular classes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., there are again special classes. It is almost always 6 p.m. by the time they can leave for home.

Not that any of them are complaining about the long hours spent at school. They are all getting ready for the 10th standard public examinations commencing on March 31 this year, and they know that the results could play a vital role in determining the future course of their lives. All of them are from economically and socially disadvantaged sections of society and have nothing else to bank on except their hard work and good examination results to get anywhere in life. Most of them are children of domestic helps, street vendors, drivers and lower-end employees in factories.

But nothing about the bright-eyed girls gives away the hard lives they and their parents lead. They are full of good cheer and enthusiasm as they crowd around a visitor and talk about how much the special classes are helping them. “We cannot afford to pay money and go to tuition classes. These classes help with difficult subjects like mathematics and English,” says Vasanta J. “Our teachers are good. But our special class master will not let us be until we learn!” giggles Gauri V.

Their mathematics teacher and president of the association, M. Kashi, who holds a day job as a pharmacist in an ESI hospital, spends most of his free time teaching poor children. “Our association is in its 19th year and we have 20 volunteers now,” he says. This year, the association is running special classes for Class 10 students in three Bangalore Mahanagara Palike high schools in Malleswaram and Srirampuram areas. They are also conducting classes in Srirampuram, Okalipuram and Papanna Block slums for students from Class 1 to 9. Mr. Kashi says that they would welcome teaching volunteers and donations by way of books and stationary to students. (The association can be reached on 9448800012).

The association tries to break the monotony of long hours of curriculum-based learning by introducing some extra-curricular activities. Tanushree D. and Sangeeta G. say that they recently put up a play called “Buddha Marga” and had lots of fun rehearsing. “The association also conducts monthly tests and gives prizes to those who do well,” chips in Vijayalakshmi H.

Ask the girls what they want to grow up to be, and the preferred choice of profession seems to be medicine, with teaching as the second choice. A small number say they want to be pilots, lawyers and bank managers. Manuja S., who wants to be a pilot, says that her friend Shweta B. will become an advocate and “fight corrupt people and those who spread communal hatred”. Ask her how she can assume what her friend will do as a lawyer, and she shoots back: “Because that is what all lawyers should do.”

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