It's always 'better late than never', even in clearing exams.
This has been proved by the Mumbai civic body's 23 class IV employees, including two women, all aged between 30 and 50, who recently cleared their class X examination.
Their determination has not only made them a role model for other such employees in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), but also paves way for their salary increment and improves their chances of getting promotions, Assistant Municipal Commissioner Udaykumar Shiroorkar said.
"Ever since the news of their success has spread, the confidence of other such employees has also gone up. I am flooded with requests to enrol them in school for the next academic year, which is a good sign," said Shiroorkar, who spearheaded the campaign to improve the literacy level among the civic body's class IV workers.
He said the idea to enrol the workers for studies came to his mind last year when he visited the Dongri Municipal School and learnt that it was going to shut down due to non-availability of students.
"I discussed the idea of going to school with a few class IV BMC employees who are working as sweepers, manhole cleaners and road and pipeline repairmen. I convinced them to work during the day and study at night, to which they readily agreed and started their studies at the Dongri Municipal School," the official said.
Nilesh Sawant (37), a road maintenance worker with BMC, who got 62 per cent in the Maharashtra Board's Secondary School Certificate (SSC) class X examination this year, said, "I am a matriculate today and all the credit goes to Shiroorkar saheb without whose support it would not have been possible."
"He persuaded us to study, he filled up our forms and helped us in studies, including arranging for the stationery," he said.
Shiroorkar, who recently felicitated the 23 workers, also appreciated their commitment in taking up the studies.
"The two women workers, Jayshree Kamble and Kalpana Jadhav, travel a distance of around 44 kms every day to work and after that they attended the school. Their efforts are paying back now," he said.
Kalpana Jadhav, the mother of a seven-year-old boy, said she has now realised the importance of education.
"I had to quit school in 1998 because of my family's financial constraints. The situation forced me to take up the class IV job. But now that I have realised the importance of education, I would make sure that my son never quits his school," she said.
Jayshree Kamble is happy that she has cleared the class X exam.
"Me and my entire family are thankful to Shiroorkar. I am happy that now I will be acknowledged as a literate person in our department," she said.