WARANGAL: A 24-year-old woman has taken it upon herself to help a group of migrant children dream bigger, of a better life. S Vanaja, who runs a shop near the Asian Mall Road in Hanamkonda, tutors 20 children under a tree, beside an open nala, every day of the week. Vanaja imparts basic lessons to students from LKG to Class III, who can’t afford access to online education amid the pandemic, in the mornings and evenings. Her lessons are free.
Children, who attend these classes, mostly hail from migrant settlements near Asian Mall. Their families, originally from Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, have been living in huts constructed on government land for the past two decades. Vanaja, who had migrated from Bhongir district in Telangana, is a resident of the same slum. She had studied till Intermediate, but couldn’t go to college due to her family’s poor financial state. “My father died when I was a child, and my mother was the sole breadwinner. I had to help her run the shop. So I could not continue my education,” said Vanaja.
The pandemic has transformed the education sector, with schools and colleges moving online. However, many students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds can’t access the online curriculum, and in turn, drop out of schools.
“The kids I teach don’t have Internet connection at home; their parents don’t even have smartphones. Some of them also find it hard to have proper meals, as they don’t go to schools with midday meals anymore. Their families are mostly street vendors like me,” said Vanaja.
Vanaja’s contribution is, therefore, very significant. “Whatever I learnt in my school days, I am imparting to the children. I know the struggles of their families, because I’m also like them. I believe that it is my responsibility to impart education to these children, even though I have no classrooms to offer.”