For the last three years, Karamjit Dhulgaj, a janitor by profession, is dressing up in his best clothes and approaching English-medium schools from Santacruz to Andheri, hoping to secure admission for his now eight-year old daughter, Jia. Most schools turn him away at the entrance itself, few others wear him down with excuses and procrastinations.
But recently, after a good Samaritan and media professional, Vaibhav Vishal, tweeted about Jia’s plight to Vinod Tawde, education minister, a couple of politicians are trying to convince schools to open their hearts and gates to her.
Support poured out for her on social media from India and abroad and politicians like Poonam Mahajan, a Member of Parliament, and Aditya Thackeray, Vishal said.
“I tweeted to Tawde since he is the education minister but after a call from his office to collect information we didn’t hear anything else from him, but Poonam Mahajan met us on Monday after someone tweeted to her,” said Vishal.
Mahajan said she was moved by her story and Vishal’s efforts. “We spoke to a few schools in Vakola and one is willing to admit them. The parents are going to meet the authorities today,” said Mahajan. “I think people like Vishal are real heroes.”
Despite scoring straight-As in most of her exams, Jia is living in Nalasopara with her grandmother, as schools close to her home in Vakola declined her admission. “We approached every school in our neighbourhood and a bit further without any luck, so she is studying in an English school in Nalasopara,” said Karamjit, her father.
Her parents travel to Nalasopara every day after work just to check up on her. But they are not willing to compromise on her future. “My parents couldn’t educate me, they passed away when I was 13 but I want a better life for my children, they shouldn’t face the same difficulties,” said Karamjit.
Since November, Vishal , who met Jia when she accompanied her mother to work in November, joined in their efforts to find her a school and offered to pay the fees but hit the same glass ceiling. “I was surprised by the callous attitude of the schools. I never faced such problems when admitting my son,” said Vishal.