‘There is no water, for­get ed­u­ca­tion. Al­most ev­ery house in our vil­lage has dropouts’



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.


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