“As long as you work on the land, there is no compelling incentive for parents to send girls to school. That is changing as more and more people migrate to cities”
Amru, Mother of a four-year-old going to Nand Ghar
Nand Ghars, she says, are playing a critical role in this social change that is quietly transforming the rural hinterland that make such a strong statement are important.
Nand Ghars are having an impact far beyond the confines of the children attending Nand Ghars and their families. They are a clarion call to all who pass by telling them that learning and education is not only a must but can be immersed in fun. Fun in rural India is alien, where scrabbling for work is a demanding chore, usually in the heat of the day or the dead of the night, where a day of sickness translates to a day without wages and even food. If there is one attribute that separates man from man, it is not caste or religion or the colour of one’s skin, but education.
Nand Ghars that stand, more often than not, in the midst of rubble, with some Nand Ghars in the midst of surroundings that look as if catastrophe has struck all around and with some measure of a miracle, the Nand Ghar alone was spared from the calamity.
It is as if everything else around a Nand Ghar is in black and white and the Nand Ghar alone is in colour, bright and cheery, strong and resolute, all for good, a symbol of hope personified, that reaches out, blind to caste and religious background, blind to gender, blind to social affiliation, only looking to enlighten.
And when a person born in a family of four sisters and four brothers with all girls not receiving the same level of education as the boys, the cheery Nand Ghars are a symbol of justice to those who think education should be restricted to a certain class or gender.
Amru, 26, grew up in a family, like so many, where she saw her four brothers march off to school and her two elder sisters stay at home to help her parents. She managed to go to school and pass her 8th standard exam and was stopped from going to school after that. It was only after her marriage that she took the 10th standard examination.
“When you own land and the land provides for you as long as you work on the land, there is no compelling incentive for parents to send girls to school. That is changing as more and more people migrate to cities,” Amru says.
“We own around two acres of land. My father continues to till that land and earn an income. But my brothers one of whom is doing his BA while the others are working either as masons or drivers have no interest in working on the land,” Amru continues. “If everyone does that, then soon we will all be compelled to educate ourselves, whether we are boys or girls.”