I was returning home from a TFI training session at KCT. The sight of corn on the cob attracted me and there I was standing beside the cart in no time. Roasting the corn in the coal fire was taking some time. I noticed that 2 kids were trying to help the parents keep the coal burning amidst the cold moist windy weather of Pune.
I struck up a conversation with this guy inquiring whether he sends his kids to school. The answer was in the affirmative and before long, we were discussing the benefits of a good education.
The typical story of poor-never-been-educated parent trying to educate his kids with his meager income followed. Then we thought that we would put his kindergarten daughter to test about how much English she knew. We asked the kid her name. A shy answer (after some convincing from both the parents) and then she blurted out ‘Malaika’. Her parents reacted by saying it is ‘Mallika’ but the girl stubbornly stuck with her earlier version of her name. Curious to test further(well well this reminds me of diagnostics that we had administered to our students a couple of weeks earlier), I asked her what else do you know? This time around, she was much more confidant and gave us A-Z in less than 15 seconds. When we asked her about numbers, she did 1-22 in less than 15 seconds again. Mind blowing for a low income background kindergarten student I must admit. Thinking that was the end of it, we reluctantly asked what else does she know.
To our surprise, she gave us complete versions of 2 English poems. This was nothing short of amazing. Our discussion with the father continued. We introduced ourselves as teachers of PMC schools. Meanwhile, his wife had also joined the conversation. I was explaining to them how gifted his daughter is since some of my kids in Standard 2 still can’t write A-Z. Then on further discussion, we came to know that she studies in KasturbaGandhi School in Koregaon Park. One call later with Divya and I was ecstatic to tell the parents that this was a TFI school and 2 years from now, her daughter would be in the tutelage of a TFI teacher. Her father seems to recognize Divya(She teaches in Standard 2 in that school). She was like the “gori” didi who wears salwar kameez to school everyday.
The corn was ready now. I was feeling delighted about the conversation we have had. The kid brother who was all this while busy fanning the fire was free now. His father had told us that he was all of 3 years and he would be attending school from next year. Not to be left behind, the boy started speaking loudly (and more importantly in a clear audible voice) and without even being asked, he finished A to Z in about the same time his 3 year elder sister did. Before I could recover from the sense of wonder in which I had sank in, the kid who is too young to go to school gave me the full version of “Johnny johnny yes papa” poem.
I congratulated their parents on the kids current academic levels and told them that we now see a bright future for their kids. I told them a bit about TFI and told them that if their children can continue learning at this pace, they will surely make it to Vidya Niketan when their time comes.
I just hope that the talent I saw on the roadside today wouldn’t be wasted in the coming years. I HOPE that TFI will continue the partnership with that school in the coming years. I HOPE that the TFI teacher prediction which I had made to the parents of this kid would be fulfilled.
These kids today have re-affirmed my faith about “Sense of Possibility”. Kudos to them and their parents.
I Teach For India