Several years ago I was helping a group of women living in Dharavi,( a large slum area here in Mumbai) with some projects they were conducting. One day while we were talking, one of them mentioned that the Class 10 results had been declared and her son had passed with good marks.

I could not see much satisfaction about her son’s success in her face. So I questioned her about it. I learned that she was unhappy because despite having obtained good marks her son could not study further. They were very poor and he had to help his father who made a living by selling snacks at a roadside stall.

I asked her why her son did not consider joining night college. Then he could attend classes at night and work during the day with his father. I could not believe it when she told me that she did not know that any classes were held at night! I explained the concept to her, and another woman from the group promised to give her the address of a Night School that was in the area.

When I went there again after a couple of months, this same woman smilingly told me that her son had taken admission in Night College and had started attending classes. I was very glad to see the satisfaction in her face.

I did not have occasion to go there again so I do not know whether the woman’s son was able to juggle studies and work. I also do not know if he did, in fact, complete Junior College. But I do know that at least he had the chance to try. Many youngsters from underprivileged families do not.

The reality is that young people find that there are not many job opportunities available after completing their education up to the S.S.C or H.S.C. level. That is probably why the boy’s father preferred that he start helping him with his snacks-stall instead of going in for higher studies which would not help him get a job later on.

This is a problem that has to be addressed. Education should be more job-oriented so that our less privileged young students see an advantage in getting an education. Only then will poor parents encourage their children to obtain an education.

Or else they will stay in the same vicious cycle of poverty – no education – low paying jobs – poverty.

This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 – Poverty