Unlike her sister who was married before completing her studies, Kusum wanted to complete her education
Kusum* is the youngest of three children. Her father irons clothes for a living and earns a meager amount to support his family. Life is often hard financially and socially, especially for a house with two daughters. When Kusum’s sister was in Class X, her parents decided it was time for her to discontinue studies and settle down and marry. Her brother too completed class XII and decided it was time to earn a living.
After completing class X, Kusum too was under pressure to leave school and drop out. In India, nearly 45% of all girls get married before the age of 18 (National Family Health Survey III- NFHS) and school drop-outs are as high as 63% among adolescent girls (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation - MoSPI, 2012).
Fortunately, Kusum’s teachers and school principal counselled her father and persuaded him to let her continue her studies. Two years later, Kusum topped the class 12 results at The Calcutta Emmanuel by scoring an amazing 91% in Science. It was real achievement and once again Kusum shared with her teachers and mentors her wish to continue her studies and attend college. Things were difficult at home financially. Kusum’s brother was out of work and the father was worried about his unmarried daughter. Why did she need to go to college he wondered.
?He agreed reluctantly to let Kusum pursue her studies. For some time, while she was applying to courses, Kusum decided to give tuitions and earn a little money. Despite her academic performance, getting an admission to her preferred course proved difficult. Still, she persevered and with a little advice from her mentors at school applied for a course in a related field. Despite initial setbacks, Kusum is now pursuing her higher studies and is the first person in her family to do so. She is hopeful that once she graduates she will be able to help her family overcome their financial woes.
*Names mentioned in this story have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the individuals.