‘There is no water, forget education. Almost every house in our village has dropouts’
MINU SANGMA | 38 | PARENT
MINU SANGMA and her husband Roklyn Sangma, 45 are worried parents. Their daughter Noronchi, 14, has reached Class IX and wants to study science and become a teacher. For the family that hardly earns 3,000 a month, Noronchi’s wish is a challenge that is becoming Herculean. Besides, they have bitter memories of losing the battle twice.
“Noronchi has an elder sister and brother; we wanted to educate them as well but our poverty got in the way,” says Minu. “The girl gave up in Class IX and we got her married of, taking huge loans. Our boy could not study beyond primary school and started working. We would be shattered if we cannot educate Noronchi but it is difficult, we have almost no means.”
The family hasn’t heard about RTE nor do they want to know. “Our village doesn’t have electricity, no motorable road and the high school is almost 15 km away. There is no water, forget education. Almost every house in our village has dropouts,” says Noronchi.
Till the primary level, she did not face any problem because she was getting free books, tiffin and uniform. For now, education comes to her almost free, with a one-time admission and examination fees at the Gohalkona High School in Kinangaon. For the rest, she has to pay. The family survives on the little they grow on a small plot. Going to school is not mandatory for Noronchi but trekking the hills for collecting firewood is a must. “If I don’t help my mother to collect firewood, she won’t be able to cook because kerosene is never available on PDS although we have a ration card,” says Noronchi.
For Minu, the worry is how much more she has to borrow from the moneylender. She has already taken a loan of 3,500 at 120 percent interest to buy a cycle for her daughter. “Noronchi somehow managed to pass in the previous exams. Teachers hardly teach in school, we desperately want her to do well in life and not be an illiterate like us. But even sustaining her studies till Class X is an uphill task,” sobs Minu.
Ask Noronchi about her school and the list of complaints is endless: there is lack of toilets, benches, even classrooms. The Sangmas don’t know who will register them for an MGNREGA job card; they need work to educate their daughter, but they feel the battle is half-lost.
KINANGAON, BOKO, ASSAM