Venu: Exploring more with a language
The village of T. K Pura in Hyderabad, Telengana is surrounded by agricultural farms. Located in Medak district, the residents of the village are mostly engaged in agriculture and livestock farming. The other few work as daily wage labourers. As we enter, the village, we notice an old guard tower which villagers say was built during the Nizam’s days as a vantage point against intruders back in the day. Surrounded by this medieval grandeur is the Zilla Parishad School in T.K Pura which educates 103 students.
We arrived during the lunch break and all the students gathered to greet us. The teacher in-charge Mrs. Shardha quickly briefs us about the school and its students. We learn that most of students in school are from schedule castes and backward castes. Their families either engage in agriculture or work as daily wage earners. Sometimes, the harsh condition of summer affects the livelihood of the families engaged in agriculture. She then goes on to tell us something interesting. When the agricultural yield is poor, parents discontinue their children’s education. This occasionally poses a big concern for Shardha at the start of every academic year as attendance of a few students dwindles. “This dropout pattern has been normal but there has been a significant improvement. Despite the sporadic dropout rate, the enrollment rate in the 2014 has increased by 2%. Most of my students are now regular to school and this is a positive sign,” she adds.
We then get to chat with Venu, a 5th standard student at the school who likes to study English. “I am able to explore so much with this language,” says Venu. When asked about his aspirations, Venu says he wants to become an engineer when he grows up. “Venu is a bright student. He is intelligent and works hard in class,” says Mrs. Shardha when asked about Venu’s performance in class.
Venu has a younger brother and an elder sister, studying in the same school. He stays with his parents and grandmother. Both his parents are daily wage earners. Venu reaches home before his parents and helps his grandmother with the household chores before starting with his homework. “Venu is capable of doing well. If he continues to work hard like how he is doing now, he will excel in his studies,” says Mrs. Shardha.
Venu likes the food provided by Akshaya Patra and his favourite is the Aloo (Potato) Biryani (mixed rice dish) served on every Thursday. “My friends and I make sure we don’t miss school on Thursday because of the biryani,” added Venu. As we wish him all the very best, Venu says, “No mention” with a big smile on his face as he walks back to class.
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