Guest Post by Avani Jalan
Education in tea estates has been a long-standing challenge. Tea estates have historically been extremely rural and lacking access to government schools.
Post Indian independence, the Government mandated that tea estates have elementary schools to improve primary school access for worker communities. At first, the tea estates funded and operated schools themselves. As the state’s capacity to provide basic services increased, the government gradually took over school operation.
At Chota Tingrai, have two such government schools educating 250 students. Mana Organics’ community development team works in conjunction with government teachers to ensure quality teaching and a well rounded curriculum to provide tea workers’ children the opportunities to explore their talents and interests. Additionally, our team works to inculcate values of health, sanitation, waste management, tea planting and sustainability.
Students participate in a clean up drive as part of their school curriculum
Mana Organics’ community development leaders working on education are:
Mousumi, School Administration
Role in Chota Tingrai Tea Estate: Mousumi serves as the link between the government school and the estate children. From making sure the schools have enough supplies for the children and ensuring efficient use of classroom space to maintaining attendance counts and talking to parents of children who have low attendance, Mousumi makes the sometimes chaotic operations seem seamless.
Challenges: Mousumi constantly searches for causes for poor academic performance. For instance, she recently realized that a few children were underperforming in class and is researching interventions. Keeping tabs on all 250 children can be daunting task. However, she is determined to improve performance and provide all the support to the children so that they can excel at the government schools.
Vision for Chota Tingrai Tea Estate: Mousumi’s long term vision for the children of the estate is for them have no hindrances in their academics so that they can get the jobs of their choice and make Chota Tingrai proud!
Mamun, School Curriculum Manager
Role in Chota Tingrai Tea Estate: Mamun is Chota Tingrai’s academic coordinator. She works with department of education to develop the curriculum and add courses from which tea workers’ children will benefit. She teaches many of these course herself and arranges instructors for the remainder. Thanks to Mamun, we have added classes such as health and hygiene, tea planting, art and craft, dance, meditation and physical education to the standard government school curriculum. Even a yoga class is in the works!
Challenges: Organizing these extracurricular programs takes a lot of Mamun’s time. However, her real challenge is relaying the importance of the additional classes to some parents, who have not had the privilege of extra curricular activities and may not realize their value.
Vision for Chota Tingrai Tea Estate: Mamun wants the children of the estate to have a well rounded education so that they do not miss out on anything, and have the opportunity to explore their talents. She wants the children to learn about health, sanitation and waste disposal in school so that they can practice it and sensitize other community members towards these issues.
Students meditating before starting their school day
We at Mana Organics understand the value of good education and want our community to imbibe the same. A part of our sustainability efforts is to inculcate values of sustainability among the youth of our gardens. Having started our education program, we see a visible change in the hygiene and sanitation in our community, and we hope we can drive larger changes through better all around education.
We commend our team of brilliant women who work tirelessly to ensure bright futures for the younger generation of our community.