Global Education

A mission for public education

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Amrita Rao

Manjula woke up, her hair moist and plastered to her face. Her muscles ached from lying on the hard stone ground.

The warm dark morning unfolded before her as her eyes slowly opened. She felt drowsy at the thought of the day that lay ahead of her.

When Manjula was just seven years old, her mother was fetching water for the family and fell into a well. She called out and struggled to stay afloat for hours but no one heard her. Then, in the blink of an eye, Manjula no longer had a mother.

She, being the oldest sister had the responsibility to stay at home and take care of the family. By the time she was 10 years old, Manjula was running the whole household. Her father is an alcoholic and rarely provides economic support for the family. Manjula must cook, clean, and go to work in the fields every day. Her younger brother is attending school but her two younger sisters tend to the cows in order to help out.

Primary education in India is one of the key issues that needs to be addressed by politicians in the nation as well as the international community. Although an amendment to the constitution was passed in 2002 to grant free and compulsory education to children between six and 14 years of age.

There are still many children within that age group who slip through the cracks and do not get a proper, even basic education.

Given this fact, the issue is no longer whether new laws need to be made to benefit the children, but what the central and state governments will and must do in order to effectively enforce the laws that are already in place.

Over the summer, I spent a little over two weeks with children in 15 villages with similar stories to that of Manjula’s. Being of Indian origin, this had a deeper effect on me than I think anyone could possibly imagine. I had never been to an Indian village and although I had seen many urban slums, nothing compared to this. It felt like stepping back two centuries, into a world of preserved culture, traditions, and lack of resources.

I interviewed over 30 children of diverse backgrounds living in and around the 15 villages and compiled their stories into a series of case studies. The facts are there and what needs to be done is clear.

This year I am hoping that Newton South can do its part in providing quality education for children around the world. Destination Education is a new club that will be meeting in Karim Dao’s room, 6167. It will be working towards this goal. Destination Education plans on doing multiple fundraisers, as usual, but more importantly educating themselves about what is really going on around the world in terms of the education of children. The first meeting will be Wednesday September 26.

Go if you’re interested and bring your friends! We have a responsibility as members of a privileged society to work to help young girls like Manjula. We cannot continue to allow children like her to slip through the cracks.

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