Pragatiki Bata School a perfect place to learn for them
The two-room rented accommodation with a small kitchen attached, which houses a formal school, pales into insignificance when compared to several big institutions in the vicinity.
Its students are either irregular, used as they are to flexible timings, or too little to bother about anything, barring when their mother will return to pick them up.
The two teachers in Pragatiki Bata School at Indira Priyadarshini Colony in Madhurawada are first concerned with teaching the 25 to 30 children songs and some games (besides baby-sitting), and then the simple basics by dividing them into two batches.
“Mostly, we go to the houses nearby and bring them to school after giving them a bath,” says Lavanya, a teacher at the school run by Mahila Action for children of rag-pickers.
Sometimes, the children turn up close to the mid-day meal time after working with their parents at the Kapuluppada dump yard, about 5-km away.
Generally, by the time the children start accompanying their parents in rag-picking, they would have completed Class V in the school.
Some, like Govind (name changed), go with their parents early in the morning and come back to school. Families earn their living collecting dry waste, and some among them are better off running shops to buy the waste.
Lavanya says that women are ready to take up jobs like that of a sweeper, but they don’t get it. Sometime ago, these women formed into a self-help group to help themselves save money and get loans.
The school is supported by ASHA, Washington, a student network. In the first year, the nursery kind of atmosphere is created, and only later formal education is commenced.
“By working in around 40 slums in the city, we have found that right from childhood they go for rag-picking. It is meant to help them understand the value of education,” says secretary of Mahila Action M. Swarna Kumari.