Triumph amidst trials: Chennai corporation schoolgirls excel in public exams

“By my own assessment, I must have got 492 marks,” Shanthoshini said on Friday beaming with pride.
G Shanthoshini with father 
T Ganesan
G Shanthoshini with father T Ganesan(Photo | P Jawahar)

CHENNAI: For the girls of Chennai corporation schools who had triumphed in Class 10 public exam, education is not just an isolated struggle with letters and numbers. It is among the numerous battles they fight every day for a life of basic needs that many would take for granted.

For instance, G Shanthoshini of corporation girls higher secondary school on Buddha Street, who stood first in her school and third among all corporation school students with a score of 488, managed the feat while taking care of a polio-affected father and a mom with mental illness. Shanthoshini and her elder sister ran the house, took care of their parents, and also managed to excel in studies.

“By my own assessment, I must have got 492 marks,” Shanthoshini said on Friday beaming with pride. While she is still figuring out how she lost four marks, her father T Ganesan says he is as proud as a father can be on his daughter’s achievement.

Huge weight lifted off me: Topper’s dad

Ganesan , who has been living with polio since his young age, has a tailoring machine at their house in which he has, by now, practised using the foot pedal with pressure from a single foot. The family of four now lives off the income from the machine since her mother, due to her mental condition, cannot work.

Ganesan, who walks using crutches, recalls his wife having a particularly violent episode just before the exams, making it impossible for Shanthoshini to study.

“We sent her to her grandmother’s house in Dindigul for 10 days so she can study without being disturbed. She was expecting to score slightly higher but I personally feel extremely happy. It’s like a huge weight being lifted off me,” Ganesan told TNIE.

“I see how she and her sister study despite taking care of everything at home. Under better circumstances, she would have scored more. If she is given that opportunity, she can score even better in Class 12 and become a doctor,” Ganesan said. “My sister does most of the cooking and I try to help her with other household chores.

On days that my mother feels fine, she takes care of house work. I’ve been studying in this school from class 6 so all the teachers know me and they are extremely helpful,” Shanthoshini said. The assistant headmistress of the school, P Gilda, is trying to enrol her into a NEEeeT coaching centre.

A Karthigeshwari of the same school has scored 486 with centums in maths and science.

“My father passed away around 10 years ago and my mother works as a domestic help to support us. The schoolteachers are extremely helpful. They never say no,” Karthigeshwari told TNIE. Karthigeshwari helps out after school by washing the clothes and vessels from afternoon before sitting down to study.

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