Village- Patan, The Tilonia Diary
When the sun goes down, stars appear in the night sky, and all cattle have been brought back after grazing, a small room in the pitch dark village, lights up with solar lamps and children enchanting “Tu hi Ram hai, Tu Rahim hai, Tu Kareem Krishna Khuda hua”, the opening prayer of their Night School.
Night Schools! All of us have read about them during our school days but the significance of it can be understood only if one visits them and witnesses the change they can bring into the lives of rural children who yearn for learning. Patan is a small village, 7 kms from Tilonia and has a night school set up with the help of SWRC (Barefoot College) which runs everyday from 6pm to 10pm. 13 year old Saroj, studies in 9th standard cannot attend day school because she has to take her cattle for grazing in the morning and has to do the household work. All the Children who come to study go to work in the morning like helping in the farm, cattle grazing and doing other day to day chores but still have energy left to sing the rhymes and poems taught at their night school.
The teachers undergo a ten day training programme, once in a year during off season of farming and meet monthly to discuss new methods, drawbacks and improve their teaching skills. When they teach the kids, they emphasize on the importance of understanding and studying and not merely mugging up things.
SWRC is running around 125 night schools not only in the villages of Rajasthan but is also functioning in neighboring states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
Speaking to these children, who look forward with inquisitiveness and innocent eyes, indeed made my hands go numb. I don’t know what they assumed about me when few of them asked me to correct their homework. I figured they might have made fancy fairy tales about cities but little do they know that this simplicity embedded in their souls is something that is lost in the covetousness of present cities.
It was 9pm, deserted road and my jeep going back to Tilonia. I could do nothing but smile through the darkness outside my window with real joy breathing inside me.