Once during a field trip to a tribal hamlet, I took some time off to visit the nearby anganwadi. I came to know from the anganwadi teacher that it was difficult to get kids to attend anganwadis. The teacher would have to go to each and every house and gather them by force. In case anyone saw her coming beforehand, they would escape into the forest announcing the teacher’s arrival aloud, warning others in the process. They would rather spend their day playing or roaming in the forest than being constrained to a closed space, even if it meant sacrificing an assured meal.
Before leaving the hamlet that day, I caught up with some teenagers who were roaming around the place. Whether attending school or not, everyone had a readymade answer to the question ‘Which class do you study in’. But thanks to their naïve expressions, it was easy to make out who was telling the truth and who was not. Having spent some time with them, I noticed one thing – no matter how they chose to live their lives, these children seemed way happier than any child you would come across elsewhere. It reminded me of the age old conundrum – Is happiness relative?
– SBI Youth for India fellow Midhun Rajagopal
Note from SBI Youth for India team: Midhun’s brief experience makes us take a relook at the education system in its present form. Is education – a classroom with a teacher to impart lessons? Or is it engaging directly with nature out in the open? Are these teenagers unaware of the world that we live in today? Or are they more aware of their own reality, their surroundings, their roots, their natural reserves? How do we bridge this dichotomy? How can our education system add on to the knowledge of the tribals without bulldozing and making them lose their natural wisdom?
* The accompanied photo is indicative.