Small eyes dream big
Over 600 children in 34 upper-primary schools of Mall block want
a High School and other amenities.
Mall (Malihabad): Humbly dressed in red and white uniform, teenager Sania Raees represents change in several ways. Breaking indigenous barriers that confine rural girls to the four walls of their house, Sania will pass grade eight this year. Empowered with education, her mind is full of ideas to transform her village. She envisions pucca roads and sewerage system, clean public toilets in every locality, access to drinking water and round-the-clock health facilities.
Equally enthusiastic is Raushni Devi who wants the school in her village to be raised to the level of a high school if not an inter-college. What makes good educational facilities essential for her, is a desire to see her village free from social malpractices like early marriage and undue preference for male child. “A high school in the village will give us an opportunity to study beyond class eight… It will also save many girls from early marriages,” says the girl.
Abhay Shankar wants more banks to come to his village so that farmers can have easier access to loans. “Banks do not work like moneylenders who give loan to one generation and indebt the successors,” reasoned the enterprising teenager. Bhanu Pratap wants more hand pumps in his village to save people from annual cases of seasonal diarrhoea and infections while Malti Gautam wants to put an end to open defecation.
These are some examples of facilities which the children of Mall block of Malihabad tehsil in Lucknow want for their villages. The feelings came to fore through an inter-school essay competition organised by local MLA Siddhart Shankar under the flagship of an NGO. Interestingly, these children echo former president APJ Kalam’s mantra of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas).
The aim, claims a press-release issued by him, is to understand the needs of one’s area and plan developmental work accordingly. More than 600 children across 34 upper-primary school participated in the competition. The entries were judged by education expert Vinoba Gautam; Prof Rakesh Chandra of Lucknow University and women’s rights activist Shalini Mathur. The best ‘vision’ was awarded at a public function in the block on Saturday.
What stirs the mind of Vinoba was hope that each copy contains. “Every child’s mind is impregnated with dreams and this reflected in their writings. Many of them want to be torchbearers too,” said Vinoba who is excited to get a feel that he stands at the cusp of an undercurrent social change.
Citing an example, he said, many girls underlined the need of a high school or an inter-college in their village to escape early marriage. Social audits and grassroot surveys have shown that parents marry off their daughters the moment they are out of school because of security concerns. They admitted that they would allow the girls to study up to any grade if the school was in the same village or same panchayat. “If this little dream turns true, marriages will be delayed and a number of infant and maternal health challenges will be addressed automatically,” he explained.
When asked to comment, Prof Rakesh Chandra said he was impressed with uncorrupted imagination and simplicity of thoughts. “Children don’t seek cinema halls or malls…. all they want is capacity building… This to me, is a strong indicator, ascertaining that they have the will to lead a quality life but with individual efforts and not as alms. In short, all they need is an opportunity,” he said.
The only negative to this story of change is that a flip through the essays exposed an urgent need to elevate the standards of education. Certain grammatical errors and incorrect expressions played a spoilsport. Let’s hope the dreams come true within the term of the present MLA.