The various divisions of classes in our school were formed based on the third language like the French, Sanskrit or Marathi, chosen by the students, except the merit divisions A&B. But every year, one of the divisions used to become the class of the backward students. All the senior teachers teaching the merit divisions A&B were also given this division without any exception. We have to apply a different methodology in this class , focusing on easy chapters, questions that are simple and objective types, ensuring that students pass the exam than the normal process of completing the portions. Without exception every year I was the maths teacher for this division.
Especially when I taught this class, I kept walking around the class, watch each and every student to make sure that they had understood and are solving the problems correctly. Arjun was a student in this class and he always preferred to sit on the last bench to avoid the teacher’s glance. Knowing this very well, every day I walked up to the last bench and to his annoyance, stood there and watched him carefully. From the yellowed color of his shirt and faded pants, I could make out that he came from an economically weaker section. Many times, it means a lot to the family when they make the effort to send them to English medium sections. I often paid more attention to him so that he would definitely pass the exam.Yet at the end of the first semester, while he had passed in Maths, Arjun was still struggling and had failed in three subjects. I talked to him on trying to improve in these languages by arranging some extra classes with the teachers.
Now to the surprise of everyone, just at the first week of November month, a new girl student was admitted in this division, Generally, no new admissions are made in the tenth standard. But this girl was not only admitted even after the first set of the examinations were complete. This was very surprising fact for everyone. We all knew that it must be some political pressure from some high level.
Soon this posh girl became the headache of every teacher. She was the sister of a new upcoming movie star and this girl almost imagined herself to a star. Except a few serious studying boys, all the boys ogled at her, not just for her looks, but because the stories she told them about the picture shoots and some autographs she could get. She was clearly a zero in studies, and did not seem to have any interest in even attempting to pass. After some days I noticed that Arjun had moved his seat towards the front, a bench near the new girl. I ignored this factor, but l continued to monitor his studies. After a few days, I found a new gold strap watch on his hand and he was constantly fiddling with it. When he never had a decent shirt, to wear this costly watch on his wrist made me wonder a bit. I asked him, “New watch?” He got up and said “Yes Madam, My father got it for me for my birthday” We had on many occasions that the parents are blind in their affection. I dismissed this as one more of that type.
One fine day the Principal called me and one other teacher and told us that she had come to know that some of the children were bringing some obscene books or pictures and were circulating it among the other children. (Thankfully in those days there were no cell phone and hence no MMS) She told us to sort out this matter in a confidential and discreet manner. Two of us discussed how to manage this sensitive matter, and make a search without raising any suspicion of the students or other teachers.
From that day, we decided we would carry out the search of school bags of our children. But we had to give some excuse for doing that! In those days there was a strict rule of our school children cannot bring any cash to school except a maximum of Rs.10 for an emergency. We decided to use this rule as the reason for our search.We started our police job. The two of us together would enter any class at random. We would ask all the students to get up immediately and go outside the class, without giving them even a moment to put their hands in their bags. We informed the teachers that we want to check their bags and find out if any one of them are having extra money in their bags against the school rule of only Rs 10/-. Both of us then would search each and every bag, every pouch of the bag like the sniffer police dogs. Finishing our job we would allow the class to go inside. We had done this exhausting job for four days , nearly twelve classes, but found nothing objectionable in any one’s bag.
Then on the fifth day, we reached Arjun’s class. We went on with the usual procedure and almost finished searching the bags of the whole class. Then my co-teacher blurted out a real loud “Oh my God!!”. As I turned, expecting her to be standing with some teen boy’s bag. She was standing with a shocked expression with the open bag of the posh new girl in her hand. Too shocked and unable to talk, she gestured and beckoned me to see the bag. As she pulled the things from the bag one by one, I was equally shocked and almost found it difficult to breathe. Those were not the things a school girl would carry in her school bag. There were all the safety precaution materials a lady would take on her date. There was also a note addressed to Arjun.
The girl and her bag were taken to Principal’s room immediately. Arjun was called separately to the school library. Within half an hour the girl’s parents were called and the girl was dismissed from the school, without listening to any of their excuses. We had sent the peon to fetch Arjun’s father.
It took almost two hours for Arjun’s father to be traced and the peon brought him to school.He was an auto driver and looked too nervous and frightened to receive a call from the Principal’s office. The class teacher talked softly to him and first made him
drink a cup of tea to calm him down. Then she showed him two progress cards one in green and one in white and asked him,“Have you seen these progress cards? Have your son showed it anytime to you and took your signature?” He took both the progress cards in his hand and examined them. He picked up the white one and said, “Madam this the progress card of my son. He showed it to me after every test and examinations and took my signature”
The teacher said, “I am very sorry to tell Sir, that this green one printed on a thick card, is the original progress card of our school, where in we had entered your son’s marks and is signed by us and the Principal. Your son had scored very poor marks in the range of ten and twenty in three subjects and had managed only to scrape through in other subjects. We had also given a note of advice to you that you should focus on your child and improve his studies. And you have signed it here”
The poor father’s face was all red with shame as he looked at the real result and then his forged signature. Then he muttered in a low tone “Madam this is not my signature. I did not see this card at all. Arjun showed me the white card where he had scored very good marks and I signed it. “
The teacher said with sympathy,” Sir, could you not make out that this is not the original progress card but a xerox copy? Your son had made a Xerox copy of s blank progress card and faked all good marks in it and also forged the signature of the class teacher and the Principal on it. After getting your signature in the xerox copy, he forged your signature in the real report and submitted it back to us. Could you see how much cheating and forgery your son had done?”
Father now looked at his son who was standing in s corner with his head hung in shame. He said ” Arjun how you can do this to me?. How can you cheat me like this? I bought everything you asked for. Then why did you bluff to me that you got so much good mark and demand a new watch from me?”He covered his face and burst out crying.
We waited for him to calm down. After controlling himself he started his story,” Madam I am ashamed of my son’s behaviour . I am an auto driver and struggle to keep my large family made up of my parents, my sister and her two daughters, and my own family of three daughters and this Arjun. Since I am not much educated I wanted all my children to learn well. But due to my poverty, I had put my all the five girls of our family in Marathi medium school.(Our Marathi medium school for girls is our own sister institution where the girls were given free uniforms, free books, and a free lunch in the afternoon) This boy alone I had put in English medium so that he could study well and make a good future. And he knows that….He showed me these good grades and said he wanted a new watch. ….I borrowed money from my three friends and got him a new watch .. I told him an A+ in his report card means an A grade future for our family…and see how he had cheated me”He broke down into uncontrollable sobs again, as we stood helplessly watching.
The Principal said, “Considering your family condition we are not suspending your son officially. But he cannot come to school here after. The portions are already completed. So keep your son at home and see that he studies. Someone, even his sister in Marathi medium school can supervise his studies. Let him practice answering previous years question paper. He will meet the teachers with his papers for correction. We will allow him to write the examination through our school.” The poor father thanked the teachers and dragged his son and went home.
That posh girl was a spoilt brat with abundant resources . Thankfully, the original obscene magazines she had circulated had caught some teacher’s eye and we started our search for the culprit, which lead to this racket. She had xeroxed progress cards , filled it up with false marks and forged the signature of the teacher and Principal, not just for Arjun but also distributed it to few more boys who had failed in many subjects. But luckily we could get all those cards before they could reach their parents. Thankfully, Arjun’s progress card being found out made us reach out to his father. His sister studying in 10th standard in Marathi medium helped him sincerely, and by her hard work and by God’s grace, Arjun passed his tenth with reasonably good marks. He managed to get admission in an electrical diploma course and his future was saved.
We all have people who help us in our house for our day to day life like the driver, cook, maids, or people who provide services for us like our Istriwalla, Vegetable vendors who all may have children studying in school. There is a misconception among many of them that the government municipal schools, vernacular medium schools which may even be free, are not good enough. The progress card in these schools will be in a language which they can understand. But unfortunately, they think that the English medium schools are only the best ones.These people have to be advised accordingly and not to go overboard and spend all their income on their children’s education, especially if they are not getting proper interaction and feedback from the teachers directly
We have seen good students can come from anywhere ..many great Doctors and other high-level professionals are the product of these corporation schools. It is heartening to see the poorer parents appreciate the importance of education in improving the lives of their children. Yet unless than good natured trust is reciprocated, their blind love can be easily cheated by ungrateful kids who do not realize the sacrifices their parents are making.
We often give toys, books, clothes or money to help out those who help us. But as a social responsibility, can we can find the time to check into our help’s lives, ask about the ward’s progress and even look into their ward’s progress cards? I have had often had interesting conversations with security guards and taxi drivers about their plans for their children’s future. The children of these people have to be made to realize their parent’s sacrifices, and be taught to be grateful and what are the consequences of playing truant.
Let us truly help our support system. Not only does their family’s wellness and happiness depend on it.. but the society’s progress and future also depend on these children too.
See you in next blog. Till then happy reading.