Education - The Great Divide
Universal primary education is one of the eight UN Millennium Goals. Indian government has also brought in special legislation to achieve this goal. But due to poor implementation, millions of students are still struggling just to go to school. Bhan Sahu, a rural reporter has shot a video that shows images of this struggle in rural areas of Chattisgarh state. The video shows, rural students risking their lives every day by crossing rain-swollen river in narrow boats.
Bhan Sahu lives in Rajnandgaon – a district ruled by poverty, unemployment and lack of development. She is a widow and a mother of two school-going children. For years, she has been struggling to get both her children educated because her rural district lacks proper educational infrastructure such as roads, bridge over rivers, transport and facilities within the school premise.
The children in this video live in a village called Sitakasa where there are no schools. So, children of this village travel for miles to attend schools in a faraway village. On their way, everyday they have to cross a river that has no bridge on it. This becomes dangerous in the monsoon because the water level rises very high, threatening to capsize the boat. Also, the boatmen close their ferry service early afternoon. So, not only these children risk getting drowned, but also miss classes to take the boat back home in time. Above all, when it rains heavily, the ferry stays closed, thus forcing the students to miss school altogether.
Now, the Government of Chattisgarh claims that 76% of the state’s rural population has access to education. But according to Bhan Sahu, the access is far from being easy. Besides, if the students are frequently missing classes either due to rain or logistical problems, it is bound to affect their learning as well.
Bhan Sahu says that the village of Sitakasa must have a school. At the same time, a bridge must be built over the river, so the children do not have to risk their lives every day just to reach school.
For half a decade, Chattiagarh has been witnessing a bloody battle between the Maoist guerrillas and government forces. The battle has resulted in one of the toughest, silent press censorship where the only news that gets out is what the government allows. The video by Bhan Sahu is one of the rarest reports that highlights one of the many problems that exist at the grass root level and yet go unreported.