Visualizing a future of change
The two brothers Ramu and Raghu (10 and 11 years) are deeply engrossed in reading a Kannada text with their teacher in a rented shed in their community that houses the bridge programme during the pandemic. They are getting fluent, but need support on the Kannada vocabulary as their mother tongue Telugu is different from the school language Kannada. Gubbachi’s curriculum recognises this need.
The boys’ parents, Suresh and Lakshmi did not have the luxury of thinking about the language gaps and other nuances of schooling for their sons when they moved to Bengaluru from Nagalapuram in Kurnool District of Andhra in 2010 – the boys were still infants then. They could ill afford dreams of schooling for them. Being landless back home, they had no way to augment income and achieve economic mobility. Suresh was a Class 4 dropout, Lakshmi was never schooled. They moved to the city. Starting off as a hotel waiter and dishwasher, they both slogged in the tough hotel job for 4 years, just to make ends meet. After 4 years, the couple moved to Kariyammana Agrahara in 2013 for what they saw as better opportunities.
Both took up unskilled jobs again. Suresh started work with a pest control company – spraying pesticides and Lakshmi worked in a housekeeping job in a company – one of the many available in the area. Access to quality education for Ramu and Raghu – by now eligible for primary school - was still a big problem.
The local private school was unaffordable and the Government School was not equipped to work with the specific needs of migrant children. In a survey in 2019, Ramu and Raghu were identified as ‘out of school’ by Gubbachi’s field team. They were enrolled in the bridge programme at Gubbachi’s Sulikunte LPS in July 2019 – along with 20 other children from the same community who were not accessing the nearby Government school. They came to Gubbachi’s bridge programme regularly every morning on a bus along with their friends. Getting onto Gubbachi’s Kannada, Math, and English curriculum, the boys made steady progress. By March 2020 they were almost ready to be mainstreamed into the Government School to Grades 2 and 3.
As the pandemic hit, teachers continued to engage with the boys on phone and then in person once it was safer. Teaching-learning never stopped. With the compassionate teaching and support of their teachers, the brothers are today confident students with foundational skills in place. Suresh and Lakshmi are at ease that the boys are learning and are equipped for school life when schools reopen. Before Gubbachi, they were staring down the barrel at a future with few viable schooling options in the city. Gubbachi’s bridge programme has given the boys a safe and positive environment to thrive and has helped the family envision the possibility of school completion. Meanwhile, Suresh wisely saved up money and today owns a small plot of residential land in his village. His next goal is to build a house there. Their jobs in the city will get them there gradually while their sons benefit from the public education system without draining them of their resources. Gubbachi’s work that supports the public education system helps families like Ramu and Raghu’s to access free quality education. It frees them from the burden of exorbitant fees in private schools and helps them visualize a future of change and mobility for their children.