Everyone says that childhood days are the best days of our life and that we should enjoy it while it lasts. Schools, playgrounds, chocolates and lots of laughter; life seems so perfect and carefree. But what do we find when we zoom into those schools and playgrounds? Headmasters, teachers, punishments, bullies, homework and dreaded exams seem to make life miserable. Zoom in a bit more and we’ll find exam results, peer pressure, comparisons and lots of confusion. Doesn’t it seem like this “best part of life” also has other aspects to it that we tend to overlook? Just the way we overlook the real stories about those kids who drop out of school!
We live in a society that expects us to excel; they do not judge us on what we excel in, only the fact that end of the day we are the best at what we do. However, this opinion is voiced only after we excel in our chosen field. When we were kids and were about to give our first exam, our parents expected us to excel in exams even if we had other interests. You would hardly find parents asking their kids to take their exams lightly just because they were more interested in dramatics or sports. Curricular activities are viewed as the first major milestone in life that you have to excel in.
There are so many myths around school dropouts; one of the most common myths is that such kids are not very smart. When smart kids who don’t score a distinction are often questioned, what chances do the other kids have who don’t clear their exams! With such a strict narrow mindset in place, it’s only natural that school dropouts are viewed as a lost cause. Our education system does try to identify what every kid is good at, but in the end they always rate all kids based on their scholastic scores. Some kids may not be great at cracking those exams, but they could be brilliant at other skills that are not evaluated in schools. The massive turnout at reality dance and music competitions indicates that children are desperate for an outlet to their extracurricular talents.
Another myth about school dropouts is that these kids belong to underprivileged families. Kids belonging to middle class or upper class families are believed to have almost everything going for them, and so the necessity to drop out never comes up. A perfect example to bust this myth would be that of K. Kamaraj, one of the well known chief ministers of Tamil Nadu. This man did attend school briefly and his family was able to afford school. However tragedy struck soon and Kamaraj had to quit school immediately to work in his uncle’s cloth shop as a salesboy. Later, he got into politics and achieved great success. Kamaraj belonged to a family of traders, and he wasn’t exactly from a poor family, yet he got out of school. So, let’s not get judgemental when a kid drops out of school and assume that it is because of his/her financial status.
Indian families are closely knit; most of us live with our parents almost all our lives. In such a society, we get judged based on how our parents brought us up. If a kid fails in his/her exams or decides to quit school, parents get labelled as – being too easy on their kids, not teaching them responsibility, not making them understand the value of education, etc. However, we need to realise that parents can only guide their kids; forcing these little adults to do something they do not like will not to do any good for the kid or the parent.
Famous School Dropouts
Ambani started his career at the age of 17 by working with an oil firm in Yemen in the 1950s and moved to Mumbai in 1958 to start his own business in spices.
Choosing not to join his father’s textile unit in Ahmedabad, Gautam set up his own diamond brokerage business in Mumbai, at the age of 20 during the 1980s.
In 1914, at the age of 11, Kamaraj dropped out of school to support his family by working in his uncle’s clothshop as a salesboy.
Born in 1952, Jagtiani joined a London accounting school from which he dropped out. He drove a taxi in London for a while before taking over his family’s shop in Bahrain.
P N C Menon
At the age of 10, Menon lost his father and he had to drop out of college to do interior decoration business. Later at the age of 26, he met an Arab businessman who invited him to do business in Oman.
Not a classic case of school dropout, Tendulkar scored a world record partnership during his school days in Shardashram Vidyamandir at a tender age of 15. He could not continue his education afterwards due to his international cricket career.
Born in 1974, Balwa dropped out of college and joined his family’s hotel business. Today, he is the youngest Indian billionaire to be featured on the Forbes List.
Born in 1950 in a small north Indian town, Chandra dropped out after Class 12 and entered his family’s rice export business at the age of 19.
Born in 1917 in Maharashtra, Patil could only study up to the secondary school. While working on his father’s farm, he took interest in politics and joined the Indian freedom struggle in 1942.
Gautam Adani is a billionaire commodity trader; he had his dad’s flourishing business to take care of. He was admitted into a good school but soon he dropped out. Gautam could have easily taken over his family business and settled quite comfortably. Instead he moved out of his dad’s shadow, and started his own trade to become one of the richest men in the world. Gautam broke another myth that kids who drop out of school have their ancestral wealth to fall back on.
The famous saying – “Don’t judge a fish by its ability to fly”, is quite fitting. School dropouts are much more than these myths; each one has their own stories and destinies to work towards. Not all of them achieve great success and not all of them waste their life either. Schooling is only as important as we make it to be. In the end, we are only remembered for what we have achieved and not our degrees.