“Education is a social process; Education is growth;
Education is not preparation for life, but is life itself”
– John Dewey
Yet, not all of the children in the region of Mewat obtain an education. Every year, a large number of children fail to attend government school and get left behind. In order to reduce this number, the Mewat Rural Education Program (MREP) was set up, in collaboration with the government. SRF Foundation aims to bring holistic improvements in 25 primary and 15 middle schools in the Nuh Block of Mewat District in Haryana, through development initiatives in infrastructure, equipment, classroom facilities, curriculum, teacher-pupil ratio and teaching effectiveness. The program involves 16,000 children and 250 teachers.
And just 50km away from Mewat, lies Gurgaon, where schools are possibly 50 years more advanced. Here, residents live in high rise apartment blocks; commute to school comfortably on highways and in school buses; attend school in beautiful buildings with lush gardens; study in furnished classrooms with good teacher-student ratios; eat balanced diets; and have sports facilities and equipment to play with.
In contrast, children in Mewat live in houses made of clay, raw stones and dried crops; walk great distances to school and back on uneven, muddy roads; attend school in rundown buildings with barren land; sit on the floors of classrooms or even outside in the cold, where there is light; sometimes read quietly by themselves while one teacher juggles multiple classes; eat simple mid-day meals to keep them full for the entire day; and play with broken slides and swings.
Yet, despite these obstacles, the children of Mewat are still a vigorous and joyous bunch. They were such a pleasure to be around, during our first visit last week. The excitement on their faces when they greeted us was priceless. Even though we could not communicate with them due to the language barrier, their efforts to interact with us through sign and body language were heartwarming, eliciting their curiosity to know and learn more about us.
Seeing them study in this environment showed us their determination and resilience to move forward, regardless of their condition. These children, still full of hope and aspirations could possibly be the movers and shakers of tomorrow.
Their aspirations however may or may not be fulfilled, as the stories behind them are filled with hardship and sacrifices. Parents sometimes stop them from going to school, as helping out at home is deemed more important than education. Whether these kids return to school the next day or not, is unpredictable.
From our short visit to the two villages, it is clear that providing education to the rural areas still remains a challenge, and there are many issues that need to be addressed. To find out more about the lives of these people, the situation that they are in and what they go through daily, follow us on our weekly segment, “Mewat Mondays” as we highlight a different issue each week and go undercover to understand more about the problems that this part of our nation is facing, and what we can do for them.
And along with the New Year, comes new resolutions. For 2011, perhaps your resolution could be to make a difference in the lives of these children and make this year a more fulfilling year for them. No effort is too small or too big, as we all have to start somewhere and take small steps in the beginning. If you are interested to improve the lives of these children, now is a great time to do so.
To collaborate with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Mewat Mondays is brought to you by our interns, Aisyah and Rafidah, who both believe that all children – rich or poor – deserve a chance at education. As part of their field research, they will be spending time in the 19 villages, and will gladly share pictures and anecdotes from these experiences. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org respectively.