In pursuit of education, they stand apart

Neil Ray | Published: October 28, 2018 21:28:31 | Updated: October 29, 2018 21:31:50

She is not Helen Keller. But who knows Subarna Das would not be one like her illustrious predecessor! Helen was not born blind and deaf but at the age of 19 months she became so. Subarna from Rajbari, Faridpur, on the contrary, is blind from birth. To add to the misery of this hapless girl, her father died when she was two years old. Her mother turned to sewing kantha (traditional wrapper used in winter) for maintenance of the poor family.  

What can a girl born blind to a poor family without the main bread earner hope? At best she may grow to be a burden on her mother with little prospect of getting married and at worst choose the life of a beggar. But the girl has not only overcome her visual impediment, she has also achieved the coveted GPA-5 in this year's SSC examination from the Humanities Group. She followed the brail system to continue her study. Clearly, hers is an extraordinary feat given the overwhelming odds against her. A girl of her standing had no way of attending any coaching centre. It is her sheer will force and talent that have taken her this far.

Subarna is one of the 127 such outstanding talented learners who were awarded scholarships from the BRAC Bank-Prothom Alo Trust for overcoming their various constraints and achieving the remarkable feat. Like her each one of those who were given a reception on Tueday last, (October 23) by the Trust has a story full of pain and struggle. Taking to pulling a van for supporting his family, a student could not study long because the kerosene in the lamp did not last. Question does not arise of private coaching whatsoever. Credit goes to him for achieving the GPA-5. Similarly, another boy was forced to work at a brick kiln just before his examination in order to meet the expenses of his mother suffering from tuberculosis. Another girl was about to be sent as a domestic help before a stroke of luck intervened to save her from the indignity. She too achieved the top grade in examination.         

Social system and luck have not been favourable to these boys and girls but on one count they can consider themselves lucky. At least they did not have to go through the inhuman ordeal of attending one after another coaching centre round the year. But at least they needed the bare minimum educational implements which their families could not afford. In that case, they had to borrow books and other things borrowable but when many of them went to bed with empty stomach, there was hardly any help.

Here society, arcane as it is, stands accused of not being fair enough to offer at least the minimum opportunity to the young learners. Subarna and others of her kind are made of metals different from those of others. It is their indomitable will to prove themselves that make them special. But not all are equally gifted with this will power. Had opportunities been equally open to them, many not making it to the top grade or even crossing the door of educational institutions at all could make a difference in the way of their life.

Here is an important lesson that no one should miss. In a country where it has become almost axiomatic that private tuition or specialised coaching in some commercially run centres is a key to obtaining top grades in all public examination, they offer this lesson. The lesson is that genuine education where full comprehension of the subject comes first needs no such coaching.  

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