As dusk falls every evening, and employers shutter their shops, an army of students marches to school.
Ami Madia, has a day job in the back office of a pharma company. In the evening Madia, 25, sheds her employee avatar and slips into the role of a student at Mahatma Night Junior College in Chembur.
When most other students go home for tuitions or to play, in the evenings scores of others emerge from courier companies, shops, pharmacies – to attend classes at night.
For these students, preparing for the board exams starting this month means maintaining a delicate balance between working by day and studying by night.
Ten years ago Madia gave up studying after her SSC exams when her father died of cancer, leaving her to support the family. Now, in 2012, she is looking to finish her HSC exams.
“Every day since I left school I have wanted to study,” said Madia, an arts student. “Working and studying is difficult, but if you want to do something you have to work for it.”
Madia’s classmates, students like her who had to leave school after Class 10, are all studying hard in the final lap before the HSC exams, which begin on February 23. Karuna Parulekar, 20, works as a nurse but wants to go back to college. Rahul Tripathi, 19, wants to become a businessman. “I’m not too nervous about the exams, hopefully I will be able to do well,” said Tripathi.
There are around 150 night schools in the city, according to the estimates of non-profit group Masoom which helps run several of them. Students here are part-time learners and usually hold full-time jobs during the day.
Many have come from out of the city to work during the day and study at night. Savita Sawant, 19, who moved from her home in Ratnagiri last year, baby sits children during the day and attends school in Worli at night. “I want to study and make a name for myself,” said Savant. “I haven’t thought about how much I should score. I’m just working hard for now.”