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Willing, but college is too far away

delhi Updated: May 05, 2009 01:59 IST
Avishek G. Dastidar
Avishek G. Dastidar
Hindustan Times
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They love books and have their favourite subjects.

Last year, after finishing school, they wanted to go for courses like BBA and BCA, or BSC from a reputed college.

A year later, they know they will never see the inside of a college, let alone start on that coveted course. And it is not because they could not get admission or that their parents cannot afford it, it is because in their world, there are no colleges to go to. So, education ends after Class XII.

Welcome to the lives of girls like Jyoti in the rural South Delhi — the constituency that does not have a college of higher education. The Capital's reputed colleges are half a city away.

“At home, my parents did not ask me not to apply to colleges. It was understood,” said 19-year-old Jyoti, a farmer's daughter in Asola Village, who wanted to be a History teacher, but is now looking to pursue a vocational skills course. “The good colleges are like in another world. Parents don't send girls so far away,” she said.

“I was good in physics. But now I will give anything to do even a BA, because I am not doing anything fruitful at all,” said 20-year-old Pranati Nayak, a contractor’s daughter in the same village. “Why does it have to be so difficult for us?” she asked.

In these rural stretches like Asola, Fatehpur, Palam and Tuglaqabad populated by mostly farming families from Jat and Gujjar communities, decades of propaganda may have hammered in the need for higher education for girls, but that has not wiped out their fear and disdain for the “city”.

Sunil Singh, a private tutor of the Science subjects in Fatehpur, who teaches village students of all ages, said parents were not really averse to colleges. “Just that they think girls in the colleges of the ‘city’ are different. They don't feel safe or comfortable sending their girls to such far off places,” he said. “Some try out correspondence courses. But soon it slips from their priority list.”

Hema Tanwar (20), of a Gujjar family, was married after Class XII, but is continuing her graduation through correspondence. “I go to a South Campus college twice a week for special classes. That's all the college life I will ever have,” she said.

They may not have a college life, but they are all voters. So Politicians hope to convert this frustration into votes with promises.

BSP candidate for South Delhi seat Kanwar Singh Tanwar has started constructing a girls’ college in Chhattarpur. “The plan has been sanctioned on a 2.5 acre land,” he said. Ramesh Bidhuri, the BJP candidate, has made it his main promise. “The absence of colleges has turned generations of youth unemployable here,” he said, while Sajjan Kumar, the present MP, whose brother Ramesh is the Congress candidate, said he had sanctioned a higher technical institute (ITI) in Chhattarpur.

The 19-year-old village girl will not get her Freshers’ Day party anytime soon.