Beautiful Minds - Dateline documentary highlights education in India
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
By Renee Kobelt
Beautiful minds - worth a watch!
Aired last week, SBS Dateline's documentary Beautiful Minds
focuses on the injustice faced by gifted children in India, who miss out on an education (and opportunity to realise their dreams) because they live in poverty.
Following the story of two gifted high-IQ girls, Ritu and Varsha, Dateline, however does more than just talk about genius children with scholarships. A glimpse into their communities and home lives offers up a picture of life in India's slums, where the odds are relentlessly stacked against children, especially girls, whose value is often only seen within the scope of duty to the family.
The real injustice is when any child misses out on an education because they live in poverty.
The reality is that one third of the world's extreme poor live in India, and women and girls share a disproportionate share of the poverty burden.
In India, where most poor low-caste women become domestic servants, girls like Ritu and Varsha struggle against many obstacles like child marriage, the preference for male children, extreme poverty, traditional cultural roles and chores, malnutrition and endemic family breakdown - just to have a future.
Gender divide and inequality is obvious: Ritu's father disappeared years ago, leaving the family in a very difficult financial situation and socially shunned, to the point where her mother, Sheena, tried committing suicide twice. Varsha's father is still at home but he is an alcoholic who can't keep a job, and is indifferent towards her dreams.
At least Ritu's mother supports her education; for Varsha it's a different story, her mother doesn't see the value of an education, so she must also deal with intense pressures at home. Education isn't seen as necessary or even beneficial. Even when a girl has an education, the value of her education is often only seen as a way of making her more marriageable.
"It can be more work educating the parent than the scholar."
International Needs Australia (INA) works specifically with girls and communities in India in order to give them more chances to suceed in life and offer them a way out of poverty. Working closely with Dr Shirin David, a renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist in the Allahabad region, they have established schools where girls would have otherwise been denied an education; schools that you don't have to be a genius to access. Importantly, INA engages with the men in communities to help change attitudes towards educating girls. (Read more about Dr Shirin here
Referring specifically to the students who score highly in the tests, Mensa President, Kishore Asthana says something that we, at International Needs Australia, apply to all children regardless of their IQ -
"Give them the realisation that they are bright, that they have the treasure within them, they can utilise that treasure. Just knowing that makes a difference."
To watch the documentary, follow this link to the SBS website
To learn more about International Needs Australia's work with girls and women, click here
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