Like any other child his age, three-year-old Vansh loves to spend time with his friends — playing and riding the bicycle.
But his parents, Mukesh Singh and Poonam, have decided that it is time he started going to school, just like his elder sisters — Rakhi, 8, and Renu, 6.
Mukesh and Poonam migrated from Madhya Pradesh to Delhi a decade ago in search of livelihood. The family currently lives in New Kardampuri, a slum in northeast Delhi.In the largely illiterate neighbourhood comprising cobblers, masons and other daily wage earners, the couple stands out, thanks to their education — Mukesh is a Class 10 dropout and his wife has studied up to Class 8.
Mukesh, who works at the local dairy farm, earns a monthly salary of Rs. 6,000, and is better off than most of his neighbours. But he dreams of a better life for his children and believes education is the key. So when a volunteer from NGO Pratham paid them a visit to tell them about RTE (Right to Education), the couple was all ears.
Pratham runs Balwadis or education centres in the area, which are funded by HT. Rakhi and Renu were trained at one such Balwadi and both of them are now studying at the nearby MCD school. “I want to become a police officer. Father says I must study hard if I want to wear the police uniform,” says Renu.
Encouraged by their progress, Mukesh sent Vansh to a Balwadi where he learnt his alphabets and numbers. His sisters also make time to teach him at home.
But that’s just a temporary arrangement. Vansh’s parents have enrolled him at a private school in Jyoti Nagar, and come July, Vansh will join the school-going brigade.