For these children, English is a passport to a better job and life.
In the remote Naxal-affected Siljori village in Bihar's Banka district, one of India's poorest and most backward regions, children from local villages are breaking the "English is a language for the upper class" stereotype.
SKILL Foundation (skillfoundation.com), a non-profit organisation working with underprivileged children in Bihar's capital Patna since 2007, has taken its English education classes to the village and nearby areas in the last three years. Students in the age group of 6-20 years are encouraged to attend these classes for an hour every day after attending regular school and college.
For these students, English is a passport to a better job and life.
12-year-old Krishna, son of a daily wage earner, says English is hardly taught in his school despite being one of the subjects. Knowledge of
the language, he says, will help him improve his prospects. After a little prodding, the young boy reveals that he wants to be an IPS officer.
Jitesh Kumar, a second-year student at a college in Deoghar town in neighbouring Jharkhand, says a course at the SKILL Foundation has helped improve his confidence level.
"I can now speak English... Earlier it was very embarrassing, I could never understand... Now, it's much easier," the 20-year-old said.
"I was moved by the challenges these children face in terms of their learning experiences and what they do not manage to learn. The most wonderful thing about these children is that they have resilience. They don't want to give up," said Shalini Verma, Trustee at the SKILL Foundation.
With its English course having made an impact, SKILL Foundation now plans to expand this initiative to other villages by setting up schools that have solar-powered computer labs in an effort to promote computer literacy.