Sangeetha was about eight or nine when her grandmother who was a maid in our house brought her to me. Sangeetha was falling behind in Maths at her school (which is also the state school that I went to) and could I help her improve some how? I had just got my degree then and thought it would be easy to teach some primary school maths and so agreed to the request. What followed was hours of torturous tutoring which cemented any illusion I may have had of becoming a teacher one day.
I was baffled at how Sangeetha was unable to grasp simple addition. I couldn’t understand how the school had let her get to fourth standard without being able to add two and two together. Perhaps no one thought to give Sangeetha, the great-grand daughter and grand-daughter of house maids, much of a chance. After all, what good was being able to multiply sixteen times two hundred and twenty two when you were only going to mop floors and clean laundry all day? But then again, may be in the hands of a better, kinder teachers, Sangeetha would have flourished. I simply wasn’t cut out for the task.
Some what predictably enough, Sangeetha was married off a few years later and gave birth to two children in quick succession. She was still only eighteen or so when I last saw her.
I am fortunate to have been born into a family where there was never any doubt about my access to good education. And I could have studied for as long as I wanted to. That I never took up such an opportunity is altogether a different story. But not everyone is as lucky (a fact I never fail to remind my children). In many parts of the world even today, education is a privilege rather than a right.
And hearing stories about education from children across the world, can make us appreciate just how lucky we are. Which is why when my good friend Lucy Lee mentioned about the animated short films she was making telling personal stories of how kids access education in different countries, I wanted to support her crowdfunding campaign.
Lucy is a passionate and talented animator whose eye for detail and sympathetic approach as an artist mean that she will enliven even the most mundane of narratives. And in her hands stories come alive.
You too can support her crowdfunding campaign here – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-life-changed/x/12833126#/
And when the films are done, I will make sure I get my kids to watch them. May be then they will appreciate just how fortunate they are to have homework. I can dream, can’t I?