Thousands of stories around the world are restoring faith in humanity in the present times and one such story is of a visionary from the Northeastern part of India, which indeed sets an example.
In India where elementary education and its urbanisation has transformed over the decade with new aids of technology, sophisticated equipment and modern methods of teaching, a pivotal fact is that while the modern version of India is exercising the privileges to march towards a better future another version of rural India is still sketching hopes of survival.
Umsawwar – a small village located in East Khasi hills of Meghalaya is saturated with an agriculture based shepherd community whose primary means of livelihood is making can and bamboo sticks and animal rearing. The little children of this community help their parents in the daily chores of rearing, farming, etc. The concept of a model school was a distant dream to them. Many of them were not even aware of what a school actually looks like. However, they are very energetic and active in games and sports and enjoy the little joys of life.
Realising their potential and will, Mr. Prince Thangkhiew, a local resident of the area took the efforts to provide basic education to these small children of these shepherd communities in Ummsawar, along with thse who were dropped out of their schools due to economic compulsions. Thus began his journey to create a revolution. But as the phrase goes “All good things comes to an end”, this revolution was facing troubles too but it was not an end, rather a small setback.
Initially parents used to send their kids to the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan School which was under an Indian Government programme aimed at the universalisation of elementary education. Children attended the school for the whole day and this distorted their daily routine of working in the fields and rearing. For the villagers, timely feeding of their cows and sheep is apparently far more important than their children’s education because according to them that would ideally help them survive. Hence, they were reluctant to send their wards to school, as a result of which there was a gradual decline in the attendance. This resulted in massive drop outs of children.
Prince pondered upon the situation to formulate a concept of an ideal school where the children would head to school as early as 6 in the morning and be back to their work at around 10 am. This is turn would also help to sow the seeds of education in the budding children who were missing out their primary rights. Prince started The Lynti Khasi School – a school to provide education to all and bring the beginners, non-going children and school dropouts back to school. The school also aims to provide alternative creative learning opportunities for the children of this remote village and facilitate their growth as responsible and creative young citizens. Saluting the spirit of this visionary, Foundation for Social Transformation, an NGO, started working together with Prince to bring a change in the school.
Even though the school is marching to be at par with its counterparts with teaching aids, amenities, sanitation facilities etc. but due to the unavailability of modern methods of teaching the school is yet to grow on a large scale. A single teacher is managing with untiring efforts to impart value education to the needy ones. The infrastructure of the school is mostly in dilapidated condition with no blackboard, proper sitting arrangement and electricity which restricts the overall learning process of these small children.
Foundation for Social Transformation is presently making efforts to combat these loopholes by providing the school basic amenities of quality based education for the budding children such as teaching aids, with a mission to uplift the future youth of the community in order to foster development in the long run. To further impact social change in the communities, particularly in areas of gender justice, health and hygiene, they need more support to grow on a large scale.
Apart from that, Prince has introduced the Khasi concept of Darbar among the village children called the “Children’s Darbar” providing the children a common platform with positive vibes to learn, grow, celebrate and share.
But the journey does not end here; reaching one goal leads to another. Transcription of these challenges would need co-operation to give a new impetus to idealism. So come let’s join hands in our initiative to lay the foundation of young global minds.
By Ankita Kakaty, Communication Associate , FST.