Jia Dhulgaj, 8, daughter of a janitor couple who was denied admission to 13 English-medium schools over three years owing to her parents’ educational and social background, was admitted to Mary Immaculate School, Vakola, on Friday.
“My school is big, it has a garden and a playground, the teachers were nice to me and I even made three friends,” said the child, who secured admission to Class 3 with the help of MP Poonam Mahajan. Jia’s parents, Karamjit and Heena, who work as house-keeping staff, wanted her to study in an English-medium school.
Refused admission to most schools in the western suburbs, Jia had to stay in Nalasopara with her 90-year old grandmother. “I had tears in my eyes when Jia went to school today. She can now live with us. We can see her every day, and not just on holidays or weekends,” said Heena. “Her uniform will be ready by Monday and we have found a tuition teacher for her.”
For the past couple of years, several schools did not allow her parents to enter the premises owing to their underprivileged background. “We approached 13 schools from Santacruz to Andheri, but we were judged by our appearance and sent packing without even meeting the principal,” said Karamjit.
Vaibhav Vishal, a media professional and good Samaritan met Jia in September, when her mother brought her to work.
Overwhelmed that the bright child was forced to live away from her parents because she didn’t get admission closer home, Vishal approached many schools to admit her. He even offered to pay her fees.
A couple of weeks ago, Vishal tweeted Jia’s plight to education minister Vinod Tawde. The tweet was picked up by Mahajan, whose office requested a few schools to admit her.
“Heena used to clean the women’s restrooms at my previous workplace, I was moved by the plight of her family,” said Vishal.
Vishal said he was taken aback by the callous attitude of the schools towards those from underprivileged backgrounds. “The previous school we approached humiliated them and denied admission, even after a request from Mahajan’s office,” said Vishal.