“Ma’am do you think I can ever crack an examination like CLAT?” was the first question ever posed to me when I first started taking classes at Digital Nalanda. I won’t lie, I was indeed taken aback. I had hoped to enter a classroom (albeit a digital one) to help children crack law entrance examinations. But I was not expecting a question peppered with self-doubt.
Upon digging deeper into the matter of why he thought that he would be unable to crack an entrance examination for which we had not even begun preparatory classes for yet, the answer was heart-wrenchingly raw and simple- he lacked the privilege for the same.
The privilege of going to an English medium school. The privilege of being able to afford expensive books and coachings. The privilege of having continual access to resources. The privilege of not having to worry about systemic and gender-based oppression thrust upon you. That was the moment I realised that there are so many things we take for granted.
To put it into perspective, while most of us would not bat an eyelid at the simple act of recharging a data pack, but for some, this action reeks of sacrifice and a struggle to make ends meet. This exact inequality poses a barrier in the path of embracing higher education.
Today, college has become a precondition for upward mobility. Yet, higher education is increasingly becoming a preserve of the elite. It is no secret that the National Law Universities in India aren’t inclusive. The very act of attempting to break the glass barrier is nothing but a rebellion for equity and dignity.
This discussion, however, should not only be limited to NLUs, but must include all avenues of higher education.
These inequalities may be geographical or economic or caste or gender-based, making access to proper resources a glaring problem in the face of reality. This inequality is linked to the sparse intergenerational economic and caste mobility. We see it through less diversity, low enrollment and attendance, and fewer teachers from students belonging to disadvantaged communities.
Questions hinting at deeply rooted insecurities are often posed to me in class. Like not speaking fluent English, not comprehending questions as fast as their more privileged counterparts, and general musings questioning their life ahead.
But there is one thing I have always believed in–even if you stop making the one mistake you were yesterday– that still counts as progress. Irrespective of who you are and where you belong from, your progress is never static, and that is exactly what I try to make everyone in my class aim at.
It has been two months since I started working at the organisation, and the experience has been eye-opening. The organisation functions with a fundamental and simple goal- to democratise education and make it more accessible to underprivileged individuals. The enrollment is free, and various competitive entrance exams are covered under its ambit, from JEE to NEET to CLAT.
Personally speaking, the work becomes important when you see that national level entrance tests have become a warehouse of business opportunities, which harms people.
This widens the income gap. The poor don’t have access to higher education, which makes them stuck in this cycle of poverty.
Even though this organisation’s work is commendable and impacts many, the work becomes, if I daresay, negligible in the larger context. We must recognise the entrenched inequality for a long-lasting change and work to tackle the structural factors behind them.
If you wish to write for us, or have a story to share, get in touch at email@example.com
Disclaimer: Internship experiences are opinions shared by individual law students and tend to be personal and subjective in nature. The internship experiences shared on Lawctopus are NOT Lawctopus' official views on the internship.