Mumbai: Iron-willed teens beat acute poverty to crack SSC exams

Forced to help their fathers stitch mattresses and iron clothes so that their families could make ends meet, Pallavi Sonavane and Pavan Nirmal spent the remaining few hours they got focusing on studying; their efforts paid off and both of them scored 50% and above

For two 16-year-olds, most of their day is spent helping their fathers with their work so that their families can make ends meet. And, while any other teenager would use the few hours he would get for himself to do something fun, Pallavi Sonavane and Pavan Nirmal spent that time studying to prepare for their board exams.

Unique challenges: Pallavi Sonavane had to borrow books from her friends and teachers since her family couldn’t afford to pay for them. (Right) Pavan Nirmal’s parents had told him that he wouldn’t get to appear for the exams a second time if he failed this year
Unique challenges: Pallavi Sonavane had to borrow books from her friends and teachers since her family couldn’t afford to pay for them. (Right) Pavan Nirmal’s parents had told him that he wouldn’t get to appear for the exams a second time if he failed this year

Monday brought good news for these determined students, when they realised their efforts had paid off and they had both managed to score 50% and above in the SSC examinations.

Battling poverty
Pallavi’s father, Prakash Sonavane, stitches mattresses and, because she was the youngest of four sisters, she was asked to help him out. “We earn Rs 200-Rs 300 a day provided we get at least three stitching jobs. My father thought that if I helped him, it would bring a little more money into the family,” said Pallavi, who lives in a room in a chawl in Jogeshwari, which also doubles up as their workspace.

“My daily income is from this job alone. Her help was needed so that we could take more contracts and earn a bit better. I was not against her studying as long as it didn’t affect her work and she took care of the education expenses on her own,” her father told mid-day.

A student of Pragat Vidya Mandir School in Andheri, Pallavi used to go to the garden next to her school to study. “Since my parents weren’t able to support my education, I managed with the help of the books I borrowed from friends and teachers,” she said.

Pallavi has been beaming since Monday, however, when she heard that she managed to score 57% in her SSC exams.
“I can’t believe I scored this much as I was able to put in only a few hours for studying,” said the 16-year-old, adding that she wants to study further and take up Commerce in Std XI.

Iron man
Pavan Nirmal from Andheri had to join his father, who irons clothes for a living, so that they could put enough food on the table. “My father irons clothes and we sustain our family of four based on the number of clothes we get. My father wanted me to help him out in order to increase our income and because we could not afford to employ someone else,” said Pavan, who has a younger brother.

When he would get off work at 7 pm, the exhausted Pavan would start studying straightaway. “I used to study every evening from 7 pm to midnight,” he said.

Pavan’s father, Hiralal, said that he had ensured his son got enough time to study at least for a month before the exam. “I wanted him to complete his education, but our financial condition forced me to make my son divide his studies and helping me. For a month before the exams, however, I made sure he focused only on his studies,” he said.

Pavan scored 50% in his SSC examination. “My parents had told me that this would be my only chance to pass the exam and that if I failed I wouldn’t get to appear again. Thus, I knew I had to score well,” said the teenager.

88.75: The pass percentage in Mumbai in this year’s SSC exams

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