Pune, July 16, 2020: Waiting for the Higher Secondary School (HSC) examination results today were the children of waste-pickers in the city, for whom passing HSC with good marks meant turning their lives around. This year, 47 students associated with the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) in the city have cleared the Class XII Board examination.
In an exclusive interview with Punekarnews, these students were elated to share their experiences.
Gaurish Sanjay Rajguru, a student of Arts stream in Fergusson College, has scored 78 percent. She is a resident of Vishrantwadi. On asking if she faced any difficulty while preparing for her exams she said, “I did everything myself. I worked hard for many days and nights.” Rajguru aspires to study either History or Sociology, and then prepare for the UPSC examinations. She said, “From 7th grade, my school teachers motivated me to study for UPSC. I have decided to become an IAS officer.” She is very confident and is determined to work hard for her dreams.
Prerna Lala Gaikwad who studied in Commerce stream at SSPM Junior College has scored 76.3 percent marks in her HSC examination. Her mother Surekha is a waste collector and her father works in a housekeeping team at a hotel. Gaikwad said, “I want to pursue hotel management. I have always been interested in this field. My elder brother used to guide me in my studies, and with my family’s support and my hard work, I have scored good marks.” Prerna also aspires to go abroad to the United States of America or Singapore for studying and working.
For this year’s HSC examinations, 55 children of waste collectors associated with KKPKP appeared for the exams, and 47 have passed. Over eight students have cleared the exams with over 70 percent marks.
Ajay Ashok Pandit from Hadapsar has scored 71.3 percent in Arts stream. His mother Jyoti is also a waste collector and his father is a daily wage worker. Ajay plans to serve in the Indian Army in the future. His mother Jyoti said, “Since he was a child, he has always been interested in serving in the armed forces. He is very sincere. I am sure he will bring pride to the family by serving our country.”
Along with the successful HSC students, Sandesh Sanjay Havle is a student of diploma in Mechanical engineering at Sant Tukaram Polytechnic, Pune has also passed his examination successfully and scored 73 percent in his second year. His father passed away in 2007, and after that, his mother sent him to a Saraswati Anath Shikshan Sanstha in Dapodi so that he could stay there and focus on his career.
On asking him about his plans he said, “I want to study sincerely so that in the future I can help my family and look after them. I want to attend a good college like the College of Engineering Pune (COEP).” Despite his circumstances, he works hard and has proven that dedication can take a person to his desired destination. He aspires to go to Germany for his further studies and has started to learn German online through videos.
Anil Kale is the first child in his family to finish Junior College. A student on the Vocational Side, Anil cleared his HSC scoring 68%. His mother, Rupali Kale was a child labourer herself and not being able to stay in school and complete her education, had big dreams for her children. Fate struck her a heavy blow when her husband passed away under tragic circumstances in 2008 leaving her to care for four young children.
She managed to get two children admitted to a hostel so that she could manage expenses. The two older children dropped out of formal education after Class X. “Anil was always interested in education and with the support of KKPKP and his residential school, I knew he would do well”, says a proud Rupali.
KKPKP is a trade union of waste collectors working in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation areas with a membership base of 10,000 waste collectors. Many children of waste pickers are associated with this organisation.
With the mode of teaching shifting to online classes and e-learning in the coming year, many waste pickers’ children will need tabs and laptops to continue their education. KKPKP appealed on their behalf to donate tabs/laptops that are out of use but in good condition, as well as funds towards procuring these.