When I asked a thirteen years old girl from Sathey Nagar ( a slum in M ward ) about her ambition , with a sparkle in her eyes , she said , “ When I grow up I would like to become an engineer”. Her friend piped up, “I want to become a doctor “. Her mother says that she herself had studied only till seventh standard before she was married . But she would love to send her children to a better school if she could save money from her meagre income.
Residents told me that Sathey Nagar municipal school only provides education till standard seventh – after that they have to go to Chembur to continue their schooling . Most people do not take the initiative after the seventh grade. Shabnam Khan, home maker , activist and mother of two children , says , “ Very few people make the effort to send their children to Chembur to continue their schooling after seventh grade . Going to Chembur involves taking a train and the responsibility of picking them up. It’s difficult to make two ends meet… therefore education takes a back seat ”.
There are three schools in Sathey Nagar. Shabnam told me that one of the municipal schools called Shivam has another section for private schooling which offers education till standard twelve. The government employees of the slum send their children to the private school in Shivam .
The overall education standard in the area is abysmal, with no proper infrastructural facility coupled with low income and little inclination amongst the residents of the slum. The situation is made worse when even in the municipal school the parents have to buy school kits for their kids. The residents complained that the schools delay in giving bags and uniforms to the children and eventually they end up buying them. With the intervention of the activist of Sathey Nagar the schools have now started to give the school kits on time.