Parental Choice
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I’m not a parent,

Not in the present,

neither have I been one in the past!

This is a plea, or a hope!

Probably not the last…

But I have been a kid, rather a carefree one,

knowing nothing of being harassed!

Didn’t know what actually went in the background,

to make me the person I am.

Looking back I can sense all my creators had to bear,

Just to ensure I’m not a miscast!

But I’m not a parent, not yet!

I, Nitesh, come from a family of educators. Both my grandfathers worked as Principals in different government schools, while my maternal grandmother was a teacher in a neighbourhood school. This was still a time when the teachers’ salaries used to be inversely proportional to the amount of respect they used to get and the dedicated efforts they used to put in. My childhood has been filled with memories of people; both young and adults, visiting my grandparents to show their gratitude for being good teachers to them. I grew up with lots of books, conversations and many years of schooling, quite similar to all of you. I never actually gave any serious thought about how difficult it could have been for my parents to ensure good and quality education for me.

Coming from an economically lower-middle class family background, from one of the most “development-backward” (or beemaru as some people refer to it) states of the country, my own nonprofit sector would have loved to refer to us as “potential beneficiaries” back then. If I were a school student now, approximately 13,000 would have been needed for my schooling only (as per the report by Accountability initiative, the median per child expenditure in India is INR 12,768/-). This amount gets even bigger, when we talk about the cost investment in higher education. So despite the fact that our neighbouring kiryana shopkeeper always used to have our name in his debt book while we used to get our shining books and shoes in time, getting education from a good school was always a priority. Despite financial constraints, all the parents like mine are bound to spend much more. But when you would explore the motivation behind this expense, you would suddenly realize that you are talking to people who know what they are paying for. They might be illiterate, poor or debt-ridden, but trust me they are wise people. And they know what’s best when it comes to choices. And that’s why opting for the best available education for child isn’t something extraordinary, but an informed decision, which all the parents are true masters of.

I won’t even discuss the government system simply because if the users are not satisfied by any service then it becomes a classic case of wasted money and missed opportunities. Besides it has already been long discussed everywhere and you all are aware about the creative-yet-useless ways our own money get wasted everyday by the Education department.

But I certainly will mention one important observation about Indian parents. HSBC’s Global report titled “The value of Education: Higher & Higher” mentions that 49% Indian parents think happiness in life is the ultimate goal for their children. My parents’ wanted happiness for me, even though they invested a lot of money in my education and yet let me live the life of my choice working with nonprofits, sometimes in villages or in remote Himalayas. They knew the real value for money will come from my happiness and self-awareness, a quality I received from my parents and my education.

I am sure all of the parents want the life of choice and liberty for their children. We the children are certainly getting a lot closer to exercise our choice, but the parents- the debate towards their choice still stays at the same level, even though huge money is wasted in their name! We have to give back the parent’s their own money, and the choice to exercise their brilliant decision making prowess, and trust me, they won’t disappoint, in the same way they never disappoint their child. They know the value of both the education and money, and they certainly can easily ensure the best utilization and results.

Post Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Nitesh Anand

Nitesh Anand holds a B.Tech. Degree from Allahabad and has been associated with the development space since 2010. As part of an ICICI Fellow (now known as India Fellow Program), Nitesh was associated with Seva Mandir in Rajasthan working on local self-governance and responsible citizenship before moving to work with People’s Action Group for Inclusion & Rights (PAGIR) in Leh-Ladakh on organizational development and advocacy strategies. His most recent assignment before joining CCS was with a Delhi-NCR based non-profit Ideosync Media Combine, where he led a United Nation’s Democracy Fund supported nationwide initiative on Democracy and Community Media. He has been passionately involved in governance, democracy and actions promoting liberal values. Nitesh is also one of the founder members of Udaipur Film Society for Cinema of Resistance. He has keen interest in photography, alternate cinema, travelling, cooking and storytelling.