Imparting Elementary Education to the poor children with the help of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust: A monitoring report for the month of July, 2010
-Shiv Prasad Singh[i]
If two systems, public and private, are allowed to go parallel in a country, one is destined to be defunctuous or even disappear. It is ironic but true that the same is happening in India at present. It is being widely experienced in public education and health system across the country. The Schools and hospitals run by the government is becoming defunct day by day and multiplying the miseries of millions of common people as they can not afford to send their children in private English medium schools.
Economic liberalization and privatization has given rise to continuous series of scams which have taken shape of rising tides, and which seem to engulf even the essential necessities of life of a common man, earned by their inhumanly hard labor. A student of history can easily remember the mode of primitive accumulation that gave rise to infinite atrocities, sufferings, miseries and massive marginalization of millions in Europe later in other parts of the globe at the advent of capitalism. In this era of economic liberalization what we experience in the forms of scams, involving millions of millions of rupees, is nothing but a new form of the same primitive accumulation.
The Indian population, that is grinding and groaning under extreme exploitation, poverty and marginalization, exceeds the population living in poverty in whole of African continent. In such a scenario after more than 60 years of independence, Indian government has passed the Right to Education Bill to ensure the elementary education for all children. In the wake of privatization, at present Right to Education is nothing but a cruel joke against the millions of innocent children whose parents are poor. It is cruel joke because as I have earlier mentioned that government schools have become totally defunct owing to the lack of even minimum infrastructure and skilled teachers. Government agencies and media are boasting it as a big achievement but they do not talk about the necessary infrastructure and resources required to ensure elementary education for all children.
Tata family a big and a leading industrialist in the country has funded for the elementary education of children of age group 3-5 years in the name of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. PVCHR, a local human rights organization has been given responsibility to appoint teachers and to monitor the progress of imparting elementary education to the poor children in some areas of Varanasi district.
In the course of preparing the monitoring report, I visited few Pre Primary Centers that are being run in following villages of Varanasi district.
This village is situated at a distance of almost 30 km from Varanasi city and almost 5 km away from Babatpur airport.
Social and economic structure: Total population of this village is about 10000. There are several different communities based on caste structure live in the village. There is Musahar community in the village which belongs to scheduled caste category and their social and economic condition is far from main stream of the society. Most of them live in thatched huts only few of them have been provided with a room made up of bricks under the housing scheme.
Hardly any person of the Musahar community can read and write their names. No person in the community is in any kind of government service. Most of these people work on brick kilns or as agricultural laborer under extreme exploitation and humiliation.
There is also community of Chamars in village and they live in separate hamlet. Awareness among the persons of this community is relatively better than that of Musahars but their economic hardships and living conditions are almost the same as in case of Musahars. So this community is also lagging far behind in to providing elementary education to their children.
There is another scheduled caste community in this village known as Nut community. Traditionally this community has been earning their livelihood by performing daring acts like walking on a rope or some other acts dangerous to life. Persons of this community also do work as agricultural laborers etc. The educational standard of this community is not much better than the abovementioned two communities.
There are some backward castes communities are also residing in the village like Patel, Muslim etc. Social and economic conditions of these communities are also far from satisfactory one.
There are two Pre-Primary Centers are being run under the Tata Trust project in the village, one is in Nut hamlet of the village and the other one is in Patel hamlet of the same village.
First, I visited to the Pre Primary Center (PPC) of Patel hamlet. The place where PPC is being run is rather a big open ground. PVCHR has constructed a building which has been named as Kabir Peoples Friendly Educational Centre. I visited the Centre in the morning at about 9.30 am and children were sitting on the ground in front of the building. There were almost 40 children and most of them fall in the age group of 3-8 years. "Most of the children who have joined the Centre belong to backward castes and their parents work as daily laborers or pull rickshaw trolley to earn their livelihoods". Told Virendra Kumar Singh, the teacher/trainer employed at the Centre.
As soon as I reached to the Centre, children sitting in the straight lines on Dari made on the ground, stood up to welcome me and to show their respect to me. Though, the worldly appearances of these children speak loudly about their background that they have come from the families living in abject desperation. Almost all the children were half naked wrapped in rags but their liveness and innocence touched me from inside. When I asked them to read poems it was surprising to me that one after other the children queued up in front of me to recite poems. A four years old boy name Amarjeet recited many poems performing acting as well for each poem. He seemed to recite poems reflecting diverse activities of rural life in an ingenious way. He recited a poem counting all months in a year.
Among these children, who recited poems were Muskan, a girl aged about 4 years, Madhu, a girl aged about 3 years, Kajal, Karan and many others. These children are cleaver enough in counting, addition, multiplication, subtraction etc. They have made a substantial improvement in learning alphabets of both English and Hindi language.
At the Centre there is no problem of shortage of attendance of the children but contrary to that there is problem of excess of children attending the Centre and it has given rise to shortage of Dari and toys at the centre.
Virendra Kumar Singh, the teacher employed at the Centre has done wonderful job to nurture the talent of these children. It is really wonderful because it has been done in a very adverse atmosphere in the sense that against a meager wage for himself. I would like to strongly recommend to give him financial or other material incentive to carry on his important work of imparting elementary education to these poor children and nurturing their talent. I also recommend giving him responsibility to visit other Centers and to train the teachers for imparting elementary education in a effective and subtle way.
Bhagwanpur village is 3 km away from Belwa village in the west. There are 27 children enrolled at the Centre. Most of the children at the Centre belong to the dalit families. Their parents either work as agricultural laborer or in brick kiln factories or as a daily wage worker at a construction site.
When I reached at the Centre, I found that the children are just tottering here and there. I also found that an old aged lady from the neighborhood had come there and was sitting and taking with the teacher, Ms. Arti. I enquired the teacher why that woman was sitting among the children. She told me that there was a ward from her family and she had come to see her ward.
There were only 10-12 children at the Centre. I talked with some of the children and asked them to recite a poem but only few dared to speak out and read the poem. Most of the children present at the centre did not utter even a word to me.
Ms. Arti, the teacher employed at the centre needs to develop more live and affectionate relation with the children at the Centre. It is also necessary to make the community more aware about the importance of elementary education for their children. She should have regular dialogue with the parents of the children. She also needs to work more intensively to induce and inspire the guardians to send their wards at the center regularly. She has to pay more devotion for the cause to improve the situation at least in terms of full and regular attendance of the children enrolled at the centre.
Aneyee village is 4 km away from Bhawanpur village in the south . The PPC is conducted in the campus of primary school in the village. This is really a good place having a big campus. There are 27 children enrolled at the Centre. Most of the children belong to the Musahar community i.e. a scheduled caste community. Other children belong to the Patel and Kahar communities which belong to backward caste communities.
There were only 14-15 children at the Centre at the time of my visit to the Centre. "Musahar hamlet is almost one km away from the campus. This is the reason why most of the children do not come to the Center regularly". Told Ms. Sandhya, the teacher employed at the center. I asked the children present at the Center to read any story or poem but none of them dared to read a poem. Even they did not show any interest in counting or reading the alphabets.
I experienced that the children need more affection and love of their teacher. The teacher requires to develop more live and close relation with these children and to win their confidence to find her in better condition for imparting elementary education to the children.
Bachaura village is almost 5 km away in the west from the Belwa village. In this village Pre Primary Centre is situated in Chamar hamlet. There are total 19 children enrolled at the Centre. Among these 2 children are from Khatik community. They also belong to the scheduled caste category.
Social and economic conditions of these children or their guardians are very poor. Only few people of this community can read and write their names. Two persons of this community have passed matriculation but no body has got in government services. Most of the people work as agricultural laborer or work in a brick kiln factories or at construction site as a daily wage laborer or under the scheme of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. These people face extreme exploitation and humiliation.
Ms. Kamlawati, the lady teacher employed at the Centre is a sincere one and have been successful to win the affinity and love of the children.
"There is a problem of regular attendance of children at the Centre. Very often children go away with their parents on the work or employed for some domestic chores." Told Ms. Kamlawati.
Educational and cultural improvement of the children at the Centre is quite good. Vineet, Sarita, Ajay and many others children showed a good response to my queries and recited poems and have learnt how to count and have good knowledge of alphabets.
There is no playground or even no much space at or around the Centre so that the children could find place to play.
[i] LLM in Human Rights from Hong Kong University