Suvarna Dongare (36) went one step ahead to support her son Ashutosh (16), who recently gave his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams, by appearing for the tests with him. She scored 60 per cent while her son secured 57 per cent. Suvarna last appeared for the SSC exam in 1990 but she couldn’t clear the Maths and Science subjects. With encouragement from neighbours, who are teachers and owners of a coaching class, Suvarna applied for the SSC exam, much to the surprise of her son.
Survarna said, “I am happy that we both passed the SSC exam together. Though he scored less, that’s absolutely fine. My scores are only a little higher because I chose Maths. Or else he would have done better than me. We are constantly getting congratulatory calls now. I haven’t decided about studying further, but will give full freedom to my son to choose his career.”
‘Want to go to office’
Priya Chowdhary (24), a domestic servant and resident of Chembur, scored 51 per cent in the SSC exams. The mother of a five-year-old son, whose husband works in a private company in Dadar, fulfilled her dream of passing SSC yesterday. Talking to MiD DAY, Priya said, “I work in three houses a day. I hardly earn Rs 2,000 a month. I failed in my SSC when I was 15 years old, as I did not have the textbooks or the time for studies due to the domestic chores.”
Priya said that she used to help her mother financially at that age by working as help in several houses. She added, “After marriage I learnt of Pratham, an NGO, that helps women like me to study. I decided to appear for my SSC and studied hard at night. My husband used to tease me and call me crazy. I even fell sick, but managed to pass. I will continue to study further and work in a better place, like an office. I don’t want my children to do the work I’m doing at the moment.”
In right direction
Saijid Shaikh (18), a resident of Kurla, who worked as a zari worker, also managed to clear the SSC exam. Shaikh, who lives in the slums of Kurla, scored 51 per cent. He was rescued from the clutches of child labour by Pratham NGO when he was 13. He said, “At the age of 9, I sold tea with my grandmother and at 11, I became a zari worker. Being the eldest in a family of three sisters and four brothers, I was pushed to work and earn.”
He added, “I never imagined I would crack the SSC exams. In my childhood I worked hard to earn the daily bread for my family. My younger brother was a ragpicker. I did not want to do that so I entered the zari trade. I used to get paid Rs 50 per day, but sometimes, got nothing despite working.” He added, “Later Pratham NGO rescued me and I never looked back. The volunteers at the NGO helped me study. I am very interested in dramatics and want to be a director in the future.”
Starting a new chapter
Bhakte Baji Karki, a resident of Sneha Sadan shelter for homeless children at Andheri, is a runaway orphan from Nepal. He scored 87.09 per cent in his SSC exam. Some seven years ago, he ran away from Nepal at the age of 12 on the pretext of finding work in Mumbai, after having been put off by studies. Here, after meeting a volunteer of Sneha Sadan, he was brought to Andheri.
Karki said, “I had lost all interest in education and had come to Mumbai just to work and earn money. Through the NGO, 11 boys appeared for SSC and passed with good scores. When I was brought here I was told about the advantages of educating oneself. So slowly I developed an interest and decided to achieve 90 per cent in SSC. But I am happy that I scored 87.09 per cent. That was the highest at Sneha Sadan.” He added, “The second topper is Sujit Pathare with 79 per cent. I studied in a BMC school from Stds V to VII, and after that at BL Ruia High School in Vile Parle till Std X.”