Family literacy is about parents and children and parents learning together. Often it means the parents teaching the children or reading with them. However, at Door Step School, the opposite often happens. The story of Bharat and Manju ( names changed to protect identity) is one of the many at Door Step School’s “Educational Activity Centres” at construction sites in Pune.
Soon after eight year old Bharat was enrolled in Door Step School’s class at a construction site in Bavdhan, a DSS representative accompanied his mother, Manju, and Bharat to the nearby PMC school to enroll him in the school. As they filled the admission form, Manju gave the relevant information: child’s name, surname, date of birth, and name of mother were duly filled. But she strongly objected and refused to give the name of Bharat’s father and insisted that her son should be known as Bharat Manju.
Manju has a valid reason for this: Bharat’s father had abandoned them when Bharat was a few months old and refused to support them. Manju then decided to leave her village and come to Pune with the baby and fend for herself. She has been working hard as a laborer and is determined to look after Bharat in the best way possible. She wants to educate him and make him a respectable person. Why should she even mention the father’s name when he has disowned them?
Bharat is also his mother’s son! He was upset to see his mother put her thumb-print in place of signature when she visited school. He asked the teacher in the DSS class to teach him how to write his mother’s name because he wanted to teach her how to sign! He was encouraged by the DSS teacher not only to teach her to sign but also to read and write. So now Manju has learnt to sign her name and is learning from Bharat what he learns in school! Their enthusiasm for learning is mutually infectious and we hope they both excel in this venture. !
Contributed by Gauri Katkar, Translated by Archana Vyavaharkar