Students who scripted victory in CBSE exams, and life

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By, New Delhi
Jul 17, 2020 10:15 AM IST

When the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced the results Wednesday, Vaishnavi (who goes by her first name) was working in the small stationery shop she had set up at her home in north-east Delhi’s Bhajanpura to help out her family

A 14-year-old who runs a shop in her house to support her family; the daughter of a street hawker who sells socks to make ends meet; and a first-generation learner from an Urdu medium school who now wants to switch her medium to English so that she can pursue engineering. Three children with three different life stories had one triumph in common -- they cleared their class 10 exams with high scores.

Vaishnavi, who scored 92.6 % marks in the CBSE Class 10 board exams seen at her family's general store in Bhajanpura, New Delhi, India, on Thursday, July 16, 2020. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times) **To go with Fareeha Iftikhar's story**(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Vaishnavi, who scored 92.6 % marks in the CBSE Class 10 board exams seen at her family's general store in Bhajanpura, New Delhi, India, on Thursday, July 16, 2020. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times) **To go with Fareeha Iftikhar's story**(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

When the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced the results Wednesday, Vaishnavi (who goes by her first name) was working in the small stationery shop she had set up at her home in north-east Delhi’s Bhajanpura to help out her family. Although she could not write two of her exams owing of the communal riots that broke out in her area in February and the Covid-19 pandemic, she managed to score 92.6% marks under the new evaluation scheme.

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The CBSE could not conduct the class 10 exams that were postponed in view of the communal riots in north-east Delhi. The board evaluated students on the basis of the average of marks in exams that they took before the lockdown came into effect on March 25.

A student of the government girls senior secondary school in Yamuna Vihar, Vaishnavi divided her time between her studies and work at the shop throughout the year.

“My father had met with an accident last year and since then, he has not been keeping well and is jobless. My mother stitches clothes at home to make ends meet. To help my family, I opened a small stationery shop in our house. I would sit there after school hours till late evening. I later started keeping some groceries, too, at my shop. I studied while manning the shop; there was no time or money for tuitions,” she said.

Vaishnavi said it was difficult for her to take exams after the riots took place. “I had appeared for my mathematics, science and social science exams in the aftermath of the riots. There was so much fear in our area and it kept us awake at night. But I am glad I managed to appear for some of the exams. I wish I could have appeared for the Hindi and English papers (postponed during the riots and couldn’t be held later owing to the lockdown) as well,” she said.

She now wants to opt for science stream in class 11 and go on to become an engineer.

Many government school students like Vaishnavi managed to beat the odds and performed well in the class 10 exams. Bhawani Kumari, 15, whose father sells socks on a cart and mother works as a helper in an anganwadi, scored 92% marks.

A student of Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya in Vasant Kunj, Bhawani Kumari said she aspires to become a researcher in biotechnology. “My father could not continue his studies beyond class 10 due to financial limitations. That’s why he has always wanted that my siblings and I continued with our studies,” she said.

When not studying, Bhawani Kumari said she looks after her two younger siblings. “Sometimes when my mother gets delayed at work, I prepare the food for them. I like helping my parents,” she said.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said students of Delhi government schools have proved that talent cannot be measured by wealth. “I have heard a lot of people saying that a poor family does not want their child to study, that they would rather have the children earning money. These results have proved this wrong. These results have proved that when conditions at government schools improve, a poor family also wants to their children to study,” he had said.

Mehak Shahid, 17, the daughter of a street hawker, scored 95.1% marks in class 10 exams. Student of a Urdu medium school, Zeenat Mahal School in old Delhi’s Lal Kuan, Mehak is a first-generation learner. She now wants to switch to another government school that offers the science stream. “My father sells iron items -- locks, scissors and suchlike -- outside the Old Delhi railway station. I wanted to make him proud by scoring well in my board exams. I am the first in the entire family to have studied till class 10. I will now switch to another school, an English medium, so that I can pursue science in class 11. I want to be an engineer and no engineering college offers a degree in Urdu medium,” she said.

Mohammad Sahil, 16, a student at a government school in Mehrauli, had scored 83% when the results came. Although he did not make it to the 90% league, his journey is nonetheless remarkable.

He has been giving tuitions to children in his neighbourhood for the last two years, to help his mother who has to feed a family of five. “My mother has been looking after the family for the past nine years after my father fell sick. She works at a garments factory for 5,000 a month. I had to take up some work to help support her and my education,” he said. Sahil wants to pursue science in class 11.

Educationist Meeta Sengupta said, “The Delhi government has tried to do several things that motivated and encouraged students, teachers and parents. They invested in the infrastructure and fixed basic issues. Who would not like to study sitting in a nicely done classroom? Several factors together helped the government schools to perform better this time.”


    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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