The Weekend Leader - A glass ceiling

Dreams of higher studies get shattered in the rural milieu

Anurag Gumber   |   Bengaluru


Vol 2 | Issue 7

Trilok Singh Adhikari, a class twelve student of the inter-college at Majkhali, Uttarakhand seems to be lost in deciding what to do after school. According to him, his wish may never come true due to financial obstacles and the limited pool of knowledge around him. He says “there is hardly anyone in my school who wants to go for higher education, and even those who do, have only one option. That is to go for polytechnic.” In such situations where the younger generation is expected to increase the monetary capacity of the family as soon as possible in life, the young hardly have time to explore their talent and potential. Thus, they all follow the same system which has institutionalized our society for long.

Further Trilok says, “I want to pursue journalism, but with no one in our village to guide me, I don’t see that happening.” Even Mr. Kalyan Paul, the founder of the Grassroutes Pan Himalayan Development Foundation, the NGO I volunteered with, feels that not enough is being done for children. During one of our interviews with him he said, “the kids over here are not exposed to the fun and character-building activities one experiences in his childhood; be it adventure sports, art, music or anything else. They are burdened with household responsibilities and are not able to develop the life skills which one normally does during his/her childhood.”

Although pursuing various hobbies, visiting new places and other such childhood recreations of urban life may be normal for some of us, it remains out of reach for a majority of Indian kids. The young of our country are passionate and willing to transform and develop. But the context in which most of them grow up, such exploration comes at a very high cost.

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Devender Singh, who works in the hill side café in the Naini Village of Almora District, earns only rupees two thousand a month. In this amount, he has to support his family, the education of his younger brothers and sisters and himself. At the time of our meeting, Devender was still in class twelve. With his schooling coming to a close, he wishes to study further and improve the life conditions of his family. He says “I really want to study further, but I do not have sufficient money to attend college. I can only do courses on correspondence so that I can work alongside to support my loved ones.”

Just for survival, these young minds have to bury their ambitions and dreams. They have to sacrifice their youth and be conservative. They lack the social security to take risks and explore new arenas when compared to the urban young.

Much effort is being made on the part of the Indian Government, Indian and foreign non-governmental organizations to increase school enrolment. A lot of current development research is focused on how to improve school quality and keep children in school. The returns to such efforts will be much higher if the approach is more holistic by taking into account the overall development of the child and not merely his or her school education. This, and increased availability of information can be important tools of empowering an emerging generation.

Anurag Gumber is a Grassroutes Fellow 2010. Grassroutes is a fellowship program that enables youth to travel across rural India, discover and work with change makers, do their bit to change the world and inspire more youth into social action. To apply for the 2011 edition of Grassroutes, go to

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