On 1st May, we had the last day of this school year at our school. The children came with their parents, got the result cards and we said good bye. We will see most of them again in July but this year, the eldest three classes will not return to school. That is something which I would like to share with you.
You may know that in the last school year, we had two pre-school classes and then classes one to seven. That was the most in classes we have had until this point. After having taught children until the 5th class, some years ago, we needed the permission to run a ‘Junior High School’, as it is called until the 8th class.
We consulted a few people and were told that we could start teaching the 6th class and start the process of getting further permissions. That’s how we filled the forms and filed the applications and at the same time started teaching the 6th class in our school.
Many months of constant phone calls, running to offices and trying to get to the right people. We did uncountable visits to various offices and slowly our filed moved. In all this effort however, nothing really got done! With time, we got annoyed and asked people to proceed, to finally reach somewhere. Again and again we were asked for one thing: money. We were told that everything could work and even quite fast if we paid a big sum as a bribe.
We explained to various people that we didn’t want to pay such sums as bribe! We are not a regular school. We don’t run our school as a business, don’t earn money from it and are not selling education! We are a charity school, don’t take fees from our pupils and are only there to support poor children. We don’t take a single rupee from the government for education or food either and our business is there to support our charity projects. None of the children has to pay to come to school. We have donors and sponsors but need our business to support the school.
No luck, in corrupt India, nothing works without giving unofficial money to the right people. Experts in that field, mediators and agents told us we had only one chance to get to our goal without a bribe: with the right approach, though a connection to some high politician. We didn’t have any such approach.
We once even thought about making a sting operation and recording the demands for money to expose corruption. Well-wishers warned us however that these were powerful people of the government who would find a way to take revenge and make us regret this step by putting up false allegations and charges.
No, we didn’t want to bribe. It didn’t feel right. So we thought, even after 8th grade, we would send the kids somewhere for class 9 and 10, so we could as well do that after the 5th class already. We can pay their fees and support them – and rather take some more of small children into our school and provide very basic education on a high level!
That’s how we opened the admissions to more school-beginners in this year and started the process of finding a school for our oldest students. And about the difficulties of finding that, I will tell you tomorrow!