He sold his land to pay for her schooling

Tej Bahadur Verma, 50, takes his daughter Sushma Verma home from her school. – AP photos
He sold his land to pay for her schooling
India is a country where many girls are still discouraged from going to school. But Sushma Verma is having anything but a typical childhood.

The 13-year-old girl from a poor family enrolled in a master's degree in microbiology. Her father sold his land to pay for some of his daughter's tuition. He hopes to catapult her into India's growing middle class.

Verma finished high school at 7 and earned an undergraduate degree at age 13. These milestone were only possible through the sacrifices and encouragement of her uneducated and impoverished parents.

"They allowed me to do what I wanted to do," Verma says. "I hope that other parents don't impose their choices on their children."

Sushma lives a very modest life with her three younger siblings and her parents. She eats, sleeps and studies alongside them in a cramped single-room apartment in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

Their only income is her father's daily wage of $3.50 for laboring on construction sites. Their most precious possessions include a study table and a second-hand computer.

It is not a great atmosphere for studying, she admitted. "There are a lot of dreams ... All of them cannot be fulfilled."

But having no television and little else at home has advantages, she said. "There is nothing to do but study."

Sushma begins her studies next week at Lucknow's B. R. Ambedkar Central University, though her father is already ferrying her to and from campus each day on his bicycle so she can meet with teachers before classes begin.

Her first choice was to become a doctor, but she cannot take the test to qualify for medical school until she is 18.

"So I opted for the MSc and then I will do a doctorate," she said.

Sushma is a skinny, poised girl with shoulder-length hair. She is not the first high-achiever in her family. Her older brother graduated from high school at 9, and in 2007 became one of India's youngest computer science graduates at 14.

In another family, Sushma might not have been able to follow him into higher education. Millions of Indian children are still not enrolled in grade school. Many of them are girls whose parents choose to hold them back in favor of advancing their sons. Some from conservative village cultures are expected only to get married.

For Sushma, her father sold his only pieces of land in a village in Uttar Pradesh for the cut-rate price of $400 to cover some of her school fees.

The rest of Sushma's school fees will come from a charity that traditionally works in improving rural sewage systems, which gave her a grant of $12,600.

"The girl is an inspiration for students from elite backgrounds" who are born with everything, said Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh International, who decided to help after seeing a local television program on Sushma. She is also receiving financial aid from well-wishing civilians and other charities.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is Sushma's story so unusual, as a girl in India?


- Posted on September 16, 2013
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I think it's so amazing that she has had this opportunity. I'm so happy that this happened to her. I wish that everyone would take this to heart and this would happen all over the world.

Why don't girls go to school still in India? Why are they so expected to follow the rules and let the boys take education? It doesn't really seem obvious how they explained her apartment. That doesn't really seem comfy but satisfying enough. I think she shouldn't stop dreaming of being a doctor. Even though she has to be 18.

Awww that is so sweet you can really tell he cares about her education this is making me cry no joke their are teardrops on my keyboard

though this is hard to do, I think that you can do whatever you want to, whenever you want to if you push yourself hard enough.

That's sad and loving they sold there home and property so his daughter can go to school and get an education. That is caring and showing his love to his daughter. To think about selling your property is nice but then it's sad because you have no where to sleep,live,eat shower or anything . The father is showing his love and care to his daughter

That's sad and loving they sold there home and property so his daughter can go to school and get an education. That is caring and showing his love to his daughter. To think about selling your property is nice but then it's sad because you have no where to sleep,live,eat shower or anything . The father is showing his love and care to his daughter

That is amazing that her father sold his property just for his daughter to go to collage. I think that is so cool because a lot of people would not do that for their child.

Going to and graduating college is what every parent expects their children to do in the United States. They do not have to rethink it- most American parents, without a doubt, believe that their children must attend college in order for them to have a successful future. Yet, in India, most parents tend to think otherwise; therefore, Sushma's story is very unusual because she is a girl in India. As stated in the article above, millions of Indian children have never experienced grade school, not to mention college - a few parents hold their children back, especially girls, from attending school because they just want their sons to receive high education. Some parents in India even see marriage and raising a family the only job girls should perform in life. However, Sushama's father encourages her to attend college and was even willing to sell all the pieces of land he owned, just so he could help pay for her tuition; furthermore, the fact that Sushama's father is willing to do all this for his daughter, a girl, is even more of an abstract idea in India. Also, the fact that Sushama's father is not financially well off with no surplus money, but is still supporting his daughter's education is even more shocking. Even though Sushama's tale is considered a unique one in India, it is still a very touching and encouraging story that melts the readers' hearts with the love Sushama's father feels for her that is clearly expressed throughout the article.

This article caught my eye! It surprised me that her father would make such a huge sacrifice for his daughter, especially in a country that discourages girls from getting an education. There should be more programs that do things like this so all children can have the opportunity of an education. It is amazing that someone so economically disadvantaged could have this opportunity, and even go above and beyond with it.

Verma's story is different and surprising because of her background and the place she lives in. Verma, as we may define her, is a very normal and intelligent student. Although in India, many girls are discouraged from attending a school. This can mean that, in India, Verma can be a bit weird to other girls around her, but here in the US, we see her as an amazing girl that achieved her goals through a combination of her passion, intelligence, and talent. On the other hand, her background shows how her story is unusual. "The 13-year-old girl from a poor family enrolled in a master's degree in microbiology." The important word in this quote is "poor" which explains that she lived through her childhood years in poverty. To know that a girl that lived with a poor family and achieved so many triumphant goals shows how determined she is in her studies. As a teenager that does not live in a poor background, it amazes me to see how passionate Verma is about her studies. She sets an important example for us that it is not our background, our wealth, or even society that will prevent you from achieving your goals; it is the choices you make that influences who you are and who you are to become in the future.