Urdu-medium students battle odds for education

For Daniya Alvi,17,a Class XII student at the Jama Masjid Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya,the CBSE Board exams results are her only ticket out of a life of squalour.

Written by Chinki Sinha | New Delhi | Published:March 9, 2009 1:40 am

For Daniya Alvi,17,a Class XII student at the Jama Masjid Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya,the CBSE Board exams results are her only ticket out of a life of squalour.

In the family’s one-room tenement in Kala Mahal in the Chandni Chowk area,Alvi studies through the night sitting against the kitchen wall,translating from Hindi to Urdu from borrowed textbooks and struggling with tough words,like many of her classmates.

“We have no choice. One NCERT textbook did not arrive this year,” she said.

With the pass percentage at Urdu-medium schools typically lagging behind due to a serious lack of textbooks,infrastructure and teaching staff for Science and Maths,students like Alvi suffer the most.

In History,only one textbook out of three was available in the market this year,said Atika,another Class XII student at an Urdu-medium school. “We had to read in Hindi,translate and write our exams in Urdu,” she said.

This year,while the government has taken up initiatives,like funding Urdu-medium schools,most of which are clustered in the Walled City,and is coordinating with the Urdu Academy to help translate question banks for students,it is just not enough.

Education Secretary Rina Ray said she expected results to hover around 90 per cent. “We will provide funds,teachers,anything that they need,” she said.But all such effort might still fall short of bringing these schools and their students up to the standards hoped for. Pass percentage rates in the city for Urdu-medium schools have fluctuated between 30 to 70 per cent. In 2008,the overall pass rate at Urdu-medium schools in Delhi was 67 per cent,according to Firoz Ahmed Bakht,who runs Friends For Education,an NGO.

Most students are first-generation learners from low-income families. But despite the odds,hopes run high among these students. Along with good results,Alvi hopes to get a scholarship. If not,she plans to drop a year and apply for the government’s Ladli Scheme.

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