With the will to change the course of education
It was a bright and beautiful day at Rakama UPME School in Nayagarh district of Odisha. As we arrived, we went about what we need to do swiftly in order to avoid disturbing the serenity of the school. A peeked through an opened window, we saw the children industriously attentive in their teacher’s instructions of the day. After sharing our thoughts on why we came there for, the teachers readily agreed to assist us. We told them we wanted to talk to the children, they were a bit astounded. They said, "The school has 183 children!" We assured them that we were going to cover some students, the most we could.
All the students looked neat and tidy and one such student was Jyotiramayee Sarangi, a girl of 13 studying in standard VIII. She looked smart in her white and sky blue uniform. Jyotiramayee's father is a mechanic and mother, a homemaker. She has a younger brother who studies in another beneficiary school.
That note initiated our conversation about education and school and Jyotiramayee gave prompt replies willingly. She told us her favourite subjects were English and MIL (Literature). She said, "I feel good to learn English." Her aspiration is to be a teacher one day and teach small children to make them better educated. She also let us know that her teachers were very supportive which was why she thought about picking up the profession later.
Then we started our usual dialogue about food and what children were getting as school meal. Of the different variety provided in school we asked her about her favourite. The answer made us laugh heartily and realising the humour in her unexpected delivery she joined in too with a tinge of shyness. She said, "Pickle!" It was as abrupt and direct as it sounded.
Unfortunately that day's menu did not have pickle on the chart as we would have loved to watch her enjoying it, side-lining the other items on her plate. We kept picking on her playfully whilst we were taking her pictures and the school children. She definitely left a lasting impression on us.
I am Jyotiranjan Das – the film features a 10-yr-old student who is a trained Gotipua dancer from Raghurajpur (Heritage Village in Puri), Odisha. Jyotiranjan lives at the hostel facility provided by the dance academy and his day begins with dance