Children from poor and backward communities excel in SSLC exams

These children never got to enjoy the pleasures of sporting well-pressed school uniforms; owning expensive notebooks, pens and pencils; studying in air-conditioned rooms or travelling in luxury cars. Yet, neither poverty nor their limited exposure to technological advancements prevented students of Corporation schools in the city from excelling in the Class X public examinations.

Fourteen-year-old N. Karthika of E.V.R.N. Higher Secondary School, run by Madurai Municipal Corporation, in South Veli Street here secured the first place among students studying in Corporation schools by scoring 494, four marks short of the score of nine State-first rank holders, out of 500 marks in this year’s Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examinations.

Daughter of a manufacturer of nonwoven bags, she had been weaving the dreams of making it big in the public examinations. The shy little girl had achieved the feat much to the relief of her anxious mother N. Dhanalakshmi, a menial worker at a private hospital, and aged grandparents who were on cloud nine sharing the news with every other relative, neighbour and passerby.

Crediting her father C. Nagarajan for the success, the girl said: “I use to wake up by 3 in the morning to study during the days of examination. But my father would wake up before me, offer a cup of coffee and sit beside me as a source of support. I wanted to dedicate him a State level rank, but unfortunately lost it by a whisker owing to losing of three marks each in Tamil and English.” The girl had scored centum in mathematics, science and social science.

Not very different is the tale of R. Surya Darshini of Kasturi Bai School. She had scored second rank among Corporation schools by scoring 490 marks. It takes a walk through a narrow stretch abutting Simakkal main road to reach her compact single bedroom house.

The main door of her house leads to the kitchen first, followed by a small living room with attached bathroom and a bedroom. It was built three years ago through financial assistance provided under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, a city modernisation scheme. Before that, her family was living in the same place under an asbestos roof.

Daughter of M. Raju, owner of a tyre vulcanising workshop owner, she had braved odds to succeed in studies. “Initially, I wanted to admit her in a polytechnic college. But now looking at the marks she has scored, I have changed my mind. I would let her study in the science stream in the higher secondary examinations and make her an engineer,” the proud father said.

The third rank among Corporation schools was secured by a burkha-clad Muslim girl S. Ashika of Jaihindpuram. Student of E.V.R.N. school, she had scored a total of 488 marks with centum in science and social science, 99 marks in mathematics, 95 in English and 94 in Tamil. She believes that following religious tenets and gaining empowerment through education should go hand in hand.

“My father and mother are school dropouts. Yet, both of them never prevented me from getting educated. In fact, they do not want me to wear burkha to school. But I choose to wear it on my own accord. I believe that girls following Islam must be pious and follow customary practices. At the same time, they should not remain isolated from the mainstream education system,” she added.