A ruined childhood
Today I’ll be sharing the story of Faraz, a 13 year old rickshaw driver’s helper.
He has two brothers and three sisters.
His father is a security guard and his mother works as domestic help. His brothers work at a textile factory and two of his elder sisters are married where as his youngest sister is 10 years old.
The motive of this interview was to know why he & his siblings quit school. Being an educationist, I believe if we want to change our country’s education system we should know the exact flaws which it currently has.
Thus, I started questioning about his family’s education first. His eldest brother studied till 10th grade, and his elder sisters cleared 10th and 5th grades several years ago whereas his youngest sister went to school just for a month. Faraz’s parents are uneducated as they have been working since their childhood.
Faraz opened up to me and stated that he did try to study but was just able to pass 4th grade and was also unhappy with his teachers’ verbal and physical abuse, long school hours and no playground at his school.
After leaving school he immediately started working at a tea stall as a waiter for 3000 per month.
After few months of working at a tea stall, he left his job due to his cruel boss who used to beat him for being few minutes or sometimes even few seconds late to deliver tea. Without even wasting a day he joined a motor workshop near his home.
The salary was Rs.5000/month as a motor mechanic but the work was way too different than his previous work but conditions were still the same. His new boss also started abusing him after few days of joining and according to Faraz these abuses were more painful. After surviving there for a month he decided to quit this job, too.
Meanwhile his old employer, the owner of a tea stall contacted him to consider rejoining and as he was not satisfied with his current employer, he took the offer but this time with 2 promises; one that he won’t abuse him again and second was that will get almost double salary which was 5000 rupees.
Faraz was satisfied with the working conditions and the pay so he worked at this tea stall peacefully for around one year.
One day he met his old school friends and they all had a party for old times sake. Later they thought that they should have one such gathering every weekend.
Faraz requested his employer to allow him leaves on weekends so he can enjoy his life with his friends but the employer rejected his request.
As a protest against the rejection, he left the job again.
According to Faraz, he was very fed up with his life which had no color and no fun, so he decided not to work again and to party with his friends all day & all night.
He remained unemployed for 2 and a half years, and his family found it difficult to make ends meet during this phase but Faraz considered this period as best period of his childhood.
Due to consistent taunts and pressure from his family, Faraz started to work again in another different field this time as a helper of rickshaw driver at a local rickshaw stand.
Apart from completely different work, the pay system was also different as he didn’t get fix salary but commission based on his performance and convincing skills.
His work was to convince people passing by to book his rickshaw as their ride and he used to get minimum 20 rupees commission on each ride.
Faraz considered this job to be his best job so far as he considered him as his own boss.
Moreover, Faraz was satisfied with the working hours as he used to get the chance to play with his friends whole day.
As my last question to Faraz, I asked him that if were to admit him to a school and pay all monthly school expenditures too, will he go back to school? Like my every previous interview of child labourer his answer was also the same. No. He said it is because of several reasons.
From what I can make out is that many of the children who did refuse to go to school were skeptical about being treated the way they were previously treated.
They fear what would happen if he rejoins school at this age and be laughed upon by the other students in school.
Will the teachers abuse him or beat him again and what will happen to his family’s monthly income if he were to quit the job were also some of the questions which struck his mind.
Owing to all of this he just refused to go back to school and not just him, many of the child laborers who face similar circumstances always refuse to go back to school.
The helplessness is understandable. But what brings it about is just not acceptable.
Being an educationist, I think we should understand the faults in the system and train our adults first before urging the young ones to be schooled.
I hope there comes a day soon when our system is cured of the weeds that mar our world that makes our children quit school so easily.