Should class matter for education?



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I was awakened from my deep sleep by the voice of my grandmother coming from the computer. She had called my family early in the morning. She said she needed to build another washroom. This was very strange, as her house in Nepal has four washrooms already.

As she kept talking, I realized it was something about the tenants on the ground floor of her house. My grandmother explained that the tenants had hired a young boy to help them out with household works but they were not willing to let him use the washroom and asked my grandmother to build another washroom for him outside, or they would leave the house.

I asked my grandmother why they wouldn’t let the house help use their washroom while he is serving them by cooking for them, washing their dishes, clothes and cleaning their washroom and working like a machine.

She explained, “In Nepal some people still consider servants as a lower class than wealthy people. There’s still a lot of discrimination in Nepal.”

What she said made me think of Nepal. When people in developed countries like Canada, USA and Europe need help, they hire other people and respect them and treat them with maturity and professionalism and would never dare call them servants.

But in Third World countries like Nepal, when someone says that, two words always automatically pop in my head: “Class Discrimination,” because I remember in Nepal, when I was small, people who worked for people got no respect or love.

They were abused, forced to do things and were always being shouted at. If anything bad ever happened, the first suspect would always be the help.

Though everybody has identity and dignity, the workers are never called by their names but as a Kanchha.

I was interested in this person. So I started asking more questions about him. “How old is he?” I asked my grandmother.

“Just a little younger than you,” she said. It turned out his parents were so poor that they sent him away and now he worked for the sake of survival and his education.

He worked hard to go to school every day. When he got home from school, he had to do all the household chores and barely had time to study. He was separated from his parents who they live in some rural place.

This conversation with my grandmother compelled me to compare the situations of children in Nepal and Canada. In Canada, kids usually slack off and don’t do much laborious work.

In Nepal, underage kids are working in someone else’s house. In Canada, it’s not just a right but a responsibility to go to school, while in Nepal it would be a great opportunity for some children to have a chance to go to school.

I remember when I was in Nepal, I used to go to a school and my friend went to a different school. It would be strange to see five people from the same neighborhood going to the same school. I was confused why that was the case back then. Now I realize why different kids went to different schools. It was because of the income and social status of their families.

Here in Canada, we have to go to designated schools of the neighborhood regardless of family status. Parents send their children to the same school.

Here, education is a fundamental right to all children. Even in Nepal, I’ve heard of “education for all” all the time on the radio. But in reality, people don’t all have equal access to education.

Education is the remedy for everything. But the education system in Nepal is producing and reproducing different classes of citizens and widening the gap between the rich and poor. Even though a lot of people talk about children’s rights, who will actually care about the education of working class children?

In Canada, if you’re poor, you might get help from the government and other people. In Nepal, it’s very likely that no one will help you. In Nepal, there are a lot of people who are very religious and they say many great things but don’t actually do anything for less fortunate people. They spend a lot of money in the name of religion but rarely help humankind.

Children are the future. That’s why, instead of employing kids as house helps and if you give them the opportunity of education, they will have a chance to be the building blocks of the nation.

In other countries, they are very proud of educating their children. But people in Nepal are still proud of using child labor in domestic work. It would be much better if Nepalis started helping kids in need rather than discriminating against them.

The writer is a grade seven student at F.E. Osborne in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

(Source: Republica Nepal)