Saturday, September 12, 2009

All is not lost




I had lamented in my last post the plight of education and the dearth of good teachers to train young minds. True, the teaching profession has lost its charm thanks to their underpaid and over worked condition. However all is not lost. The pictures posted above indicate the effort of Mrs. Anjali Bose, a seventy three year old social worker who has taken it on herself to do her bit for the girl child in Jharkhand. Her school is called 'setu vidyalaya' or 'bridge school'. The Jharkhand government identified her organization and gave her the job of coaching 50 girls between the age of 9 and 14 and raise their level of understanding to that of Grade 6 in a regular school identified by the government. Their education upto the 12th grade would then be the responsibility of the state government. These girls had to be school drop outs as certified by the headman of their village. The school was to be a residential one and the time granted to them was 9 months. She was supposed to appoint a teacher, an assistant teacher and a cook.

Mrs. Anjali Bose was already running a sewing class in her house in the outskirts of Jamshedpur. She converted it to a residential school and within 4 months the change undergone by these girls was visible. Today at least 30 of these students expect to be absorbed in the school marked out for them. They take their exams in February 2010.

The government carries out periodic checks and the grant is given out in part after ensuring that the previous amount has been properly utilized. The cause for cheer mainly lies in the fact that palms were not greased to obtain it nor does she plan to press for renewal of the project. Should the authorities consider her competent renewal should automatically follow is her stand.

It is not as if it was a cake walk all the way. Parents were wary and suspicious of her intentions. More than other things parents from a rural background had to be convinced about the importance of educating the girl child. A truly service minded teacher had to be appointed, who would agree not only work for the pittance paid to her but also double up as honorary store keeper cum warden. Many of the girls were illiterate and had to be taught from scratch. The government allowance covered only the children's board and lodge. The 5 staff members ie 2 teachers, a cook, a gatekeeper and maid who kept a round the clock vigilance on these young girls were perhaps expected to live on fresh air and water. Extra bathrooms had to be built, bed and bed linen had to be provided, at least 2 sets of uniforms had to be stitched and a buffer amount kept ready to counter any delay in payment by the government. Then there was always a chance of the girls falling ill so that too had to be taken care of.

Luckily, all these issues have been addressed. The teacher who works for them is sincere and efficient. She has her own set of problems but she still manages to teach these children some singing and gets involved in their physical training and games too. They are given simple chores to do and a healthy foundation to community living is being imbibed by these children albeit unconsciously.

The photographs above were taken on Independance day and in the first photograph Anjalidi can be seen addressing the gathering. This is an example of good work done against all odds and the dearth of good teachers that society faces is not because they are underpaid but rather because the importance of the profession has been conveniently forgotten. But I still insist that all is not lost.

13 comments:

Ugich Konitari said...

Thank you for posting this. We have so many problems in this country, but once in a while you hear about these wonderful dedicated people, and this inspires us to say, "Dont give up....things will improve...."

As you so rightly say, all is not lost .

Curry Pan said...

it's so wonderful to see people with a committed cause. i don't know if it was the relatively limited exposure that your generation received (leading, maybe, to fewer choices) or just generally a clarity of vision you had growing up.
As I see it, we're such a confused lot, my peers. We study abroad, we want to make a better life, we want to improve our own standards of living selfishly. But we are equally inspired to go back to our country, clean up the mess that is the economy, help re-build the social system, and generally dream other such lofty dreams.
I have a friend who studies here with me, who wants to establish the indian equivalend of texas instruments in b'lore. I have equally ambitious ideas. But we also want to have the luxuries that our current positions and opportunities offer us - retiring at 30, enjoying cruising around the world full time. it's such a contradiction of desires.
We're the confused generation, looking for people who'd help us make choices :)

Aathira said...

This is wonderful.

Here is something I came across on the same lines.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/sreelatha-menonschool-atdoorstep/368506/

Tys on Ice said...

ahhh..just when I was losing all hope in the human species, you post this...

thank you.

Renu said...

you have been tagged !!!

Anamika said...

Thanks for this post. You are right, all is not lost.

vishesh said...

hope , always there is :)

hillgrandmom said...

That is really a wonderful story HHG! It is always great to know that there are people like this around. Great woman.

dipali said...

Truly, all is not lost.

Deepa said...

Hi! You should also read about the work of Shanta Sinha. She is the founder of a Hyd based NGO called M.V.Foundation which has done pioneering work in the elimination of child labour and bringing children back into schools. Her model is so successful that the Govt. of AP has adopted it as the State model for elimination of child labour and a key strategy for universalising primary education. She is also a Magsaysay awardee for the year 2004 (though I would check the year). She is now the chairperson of the National Commission on Rights of the Child.

shoba said...

Yes, there is light ! What a wonderful, moving story !

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
Thanks for your inputs.I agree that it is only because of the efforts of such dedicared people that we still manage to hope that all is not lost.Atleast not yet.The newspapers constantly report government schemes to educate the masses.In fact Anjalidi is involved in the project that is part of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan - something like a 'literacy drive'. The sad part is that government funds are hard to get and even the most dedicated people tend to get frustrated.Moreover the state government grants Rs.20/- per day per student which is much less than the required amount for a growing child.So the people who get such projects give not only their time and energy but also money which may be their own or donations in the form of cash and kind from kind hearted people in their immediate circle.It is the sheer will to do something useful for socoety that gets them going.

aathira:thanks for the link.I forwarded it to a few people who are exploring the possibility of starting something like 'gyanshala' in our small town as well.

deepa:Thanks for the reference.will check it out.

Shachi said...

This is such a positive story - thank you for sharing with us!