Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Streets Are Shocking

Sunday, July 06 The day begins at the U.S. Education Foundation of India complex for a panel discussion on student achievement. Key state directors are present. I was particularly interested in the streams (or tracks) that students must choose by grade eleven - either science, commerce, humanities or vocational. Everyone seems to want to be an engineer. Compulsory education ends at 14 years of age. The dropout rate is a very sensitive topic. Nine out of ten students who begin in grade 1 do not finish grade 12. Their illiterate population exceeds the total population of the US!! Students attend school on Saturdays for 210 days of the year versus our 180.

We went to visit the impressive Red Fort of a Mughal emperor made out of immense red sandstone with palaces and halls. Afterwards we had to get dinner on our own in "the streets" of Delhi. Words can not describe the mass of humanity. It was frightening in many ways. It was like walking among the crowd exiting a Bucs football game except non-stop. The smells, noise and visually shocking sights were a sensory overload. It became imperative to stare straight ahead making no eye contact or face relentless badgering of beggers or unwanted attention from the men. Fortunately, we have nine men among our group of sixteen. This is a big help. The traffic on the street was equally shocking. Rickshaws -auto and bike- compete for space among the cars and motorcycles. Lanes are created in a constant weaving, bumper to bumper fashion with cars only inches from you. All of this occurs in a constant background of car horns beeping. We depart shell shocked - hardly able to verbalize the experience.

No comments: