Mumbai: The shoeshine boys of Mumbai who until now wielded the brush to polish shoes of others will soon get an opportunity to polish their own future.
The Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) has launched a preparatory course to educate the shoeshine boys of the city. The course will include some English and some mathematics among other subjects. It has been designed in a manner to enable them to study for a college degree after they complete the course.
Shyamsunder Ram (45), a joota polishwala (shoeshiner) at Dadar railway station says, “Studying at this age is not going to get me a better job. I want to study so that I can broaden my perspective of the world. I want to change the way I see things around me, and what better way to start than studying different subjects.”
Ram Kishen Mehra (42), a shoeshiner at Andheri railway station wants to study so that his children can have a better future. He studied up to the fourth standard but had to discontinue due financial constraints. “I am uneducated but I want my kids to be educated and have a better future. I want to study so that I can understand what they are studying and also so that I know which courses to choose for them when they go to college,” he said.
The educational programme will enable these men for a course in development of entrepreneurial skills if they do not wish to study for a college degree.
Rupa Shah, former vice chancellor ofSNDTUniversitypresent at the launching ceremony of the educational programme is glad that these men have the grist and the guts to study at this age. She is of the opinion that any kind of learning is an advantage to all. “This course dispels the notion that you must be young to study. These men could land up being small-time entrepreneurs with the skill set that this course is going to give them,” she said.
The university had earlier started similar courses for the dabbawallas and house maids in Mumbai. This course for which more than a 100 shoeshine boys have already signed up will help them be more aware of their surroundings and not just help them be better businessmen but also walk with their heads held high.