The sensitisation session for the XII standard students of Government Higher Secondary School Kattappana was conducted on 3 June 2011. The school is located in Kattappana, a small town in Idukki district, Kerala. The headmaster and teachers of the school were welcoming. We had an opportunity to interact with the teachers of the higher secondary classes before we addressed the students. This was of great utility as we could get a clear picture of the academic as well as economic background of the students. This is the first higher secondary batch of the school and hence the teachers have put great hopes on these students. This school was named the Government Tribal School until a couple of years back but was recently renamed as Government School since considerable number of non – tribals in the area were also looking up to this institution for education. Most of these students are from very poor economic backgrounds and hence are forced to contribute to their family income. Hence many of them work as auto drivers, labourers in pepper plantations, waiters in catering services etc after their class hours and on holidays unlike their better privileged counterparts who spend these hours in various tuition centers and entrance coaching institutes. As we spoke about IDIA, the teachers were happy that new vistas were being opened up for these students as many of them could not even dream of higher education due to financial constraints.
The session for the students began at 2:30 pm. We had 41 students from both Science and commerce batches together, listening to us. A considerable number of students were absent owing to the heavy rains in the district. Taking into account what we had gathered from our interaction with the teachers, we began the session asking how many of them were desirous of pursuing their studies after XII standard. We were shocked to find that only about 50% of the students were desirous of being graduates. Hence the first task ahead was to convince them about the need for higher education. Proceeding further on an interactive mode, it was found that only a microscopic minority had decided upon what career they wanted to pursue. None of the students had even considered law as an option. This was surprising as almost everyone in the class were keen on law and lawyers which was reflected in random questions (which included questions on self defence, murder, various torts etc) which they wanted answered as soon as we entered their class room (and we had a tough time postponing most of these questions for another occasion due to paucity of time!) and yet none of them wanted to be lawyers! This, we soon found, was in-fact due to a few misconceptions about the prospects of this profession.
They were then told about various opportunities available for a law graduate besides litigation which included working with law firms, other corporate firms, NGOs, PSUs and other entrepreneurial possibilities. This went a long way in removing their misconceptions and we found their interest growing considerably. The concept of National Law Schools and CLAT was new to them. They were briefed about the curriculum at law schools which included advanced syllabus, interactive classrooms, moot courts, internships etc. They were also told about the syllabus and question pattern for CLAT. By then we could see the enthusiasm and curiosity growing. We had queries coming up from all corners of the classroom which included the fees structure at law schools. They were disappointed when they heard about the fees structure at law schools. But they were soon relieved when we told them how IDIA could open the gates of Law Schools for them.
We wound up the session at 3:30 pm promising that we would come again to conduct the aptitude test to select students for intensive training. It was a great surprise to find a lot of students approaching us personally after the school hours sharing their hopes about reaching law schools. Many of them were determined and we are sure to see many of those faces in law schools.
Report by Shinsa PM and Telma Raju