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Moin is back in school

by S.Giridhar, Head - Advocacy and Research

Moin Pasha is back in Mainstream School after Chinnara Angala [Bridge School], Maddur,June 2002. Doordarshan featured him in their programme after an article on him by Mr. S. Giridhar of the Foundation.

Chinnara Angala is the bridge school run by the Government of Karnataka for children who are out of school (or have dropped out) so that they are in a position to join main stream schools when the new academic year begins in June.

In May, I visited the Chinnara Angala at the Government Higher Primary School in Maddur. In a class of about 23 children that day, one boy stood out. Moin Pasha, aged 11, dropped out in class V last year. Undernourished, very thin and small for his age, his eyes were bright and sharp. He read fast and wrote even faster. The regular school going children of his age may have problems with arithmetic but he had the flair to sums that I started tossing at him. The energetic Block Resource Coordinator there, Ms. ‘Nalini, is proud of him. She keeps saying that the boy is brilliant but gets bored easily.

Moin is the eldest of four children of a small time watch repairer in Maddur. That day when I left the school, I carried back the vivid image of a boy bright and vibrant and who I wished would go back to regular school.

A week went by. I got sucked into routine but the vision of Moin at Chinnara Angala kept coming back to me. Unable to hold off any longer, I went back to the next Friday to the Government School in Maddur. Chinnara Angala was over, regular school had commenced. I asked the teachers and the head master about Moin. No firm replies. Someone told me, “Check at the Urdu school”. But Urdu schools are closed on Fridays. I decided not to leave Maddur till I saw Moin.

I asked shopkeepers on the busy market road about the boy. All I knew was that Moin Pasha’s father was a watch repairer. Suddenly Maddur seemed to have too many watch repair shops. On my third strike I made progress. The abrasive young owner told me that I must be looking for Umar Pasha! I now had a lead and I started asking for Umar Pasha. And soon I had another young person direct me to a street where he thought Pasha did his business. No one there.

As I hung around, unwilling to accept defeat, someone came along asking if I meant the Pasha with long hair! If I said “no” I knew my search would not progress and so I said “yes”. Go straight and take the sixth turn on your right. I reached a small grocery shop. No watch repairer there, but the man sitting there with his wife was the Umar Pasha that I was looking for! I asked him about Moin. At school, he said. But it is Friday and the Urdu school is closed, I replied. At this Umar smiled and told me that Moin had admitted himself to Kasturba Higher Primary School. He said this almost as if Moin must be mad to do that.

I entered the compound of an extremely well kept school. I popped my head into Class VI C and there on the second row was Moin. He saw me and grinned widely. He wore the same shirt that I saw him in the last time, only the tear on the left shoulder was bigger. He looked thinner, but the sparkle in his eye was a lot brighter. I asked the teacher if I could spend a minute with Moin. Sure. I put an arm around the thin shoulders and all I told him was that he must now study well and without a break. Moin’s Kannada is as fluent as his Urdu. In fact at the Chinnara Angala he even spoke for the volunteer teachers when they were o too shy to reply to some questions. He told me that he would soon learn English too. His confidence in himself is amazing.

I walked right across the compound to meet Mr. Boraiah, founder Head Master of the school for 33 years. He welcomed with grace. When I spoke to him about Moin, he quickly got all the records. He promised me that the school would do its best for him and then proudly added that in the last two years the school had admitted ten children from Chinnara Angala.

For me, the story of Moin is the story of Chinnara Angala.

This article appeared in Deccan Herald, issue dated July 12, 2002