I spent the first few weeks after moving back going to several villages and looking for a primary school where I could start work. Sometime in June, I had gone to the Village Panchayat office in Chandapura a few kilometers south of Electronic City on Hosur Road where the Panchayat development officer Joseph introduced me to Srinivas a resident of village Lakhsmisagar in Anekal Taluk. Srinivas took me to his village primary (elementary) school. As soon as we arrived in the village, all the children who have to sit on the floor stood up and said ‘Good Morning Miss’. We were told by the teacher that the school building was donated by one of the residents of the village and that the school has a total of around 35 children split in Grades 1-5. The three teachers (2 female and 1 male) who understand English also assured their cooperation for my project.
When I started the project in the beginning of July 2010, all the children knew the alphabets and most of them were able to write both upper and lower case letters but only the oldest children could read simple words like ‘bus’, ‘boy’ etc. The children call me ‘English Miss’ and am always greeted with big smiles and hand shakes every time I am at the school. It has been more than a month since I started going to the village (quite a commute for me as I need to change buses twice and walk 3 kilometers each way), but it is the children’s hunger to learn that has kept me going.
The other day, when I was at the village, a doctor and a nurse from a nearby Government Health center visited the school to do routine checkups for the children. After being served a cup of tea and a banana, we walked towards Hosur Road and was told by the doctor that the immunizations of the children were up to date and that they are required to make frequent visits to schools in the locality. Another baby step towards an empowered nation!