Education, Social Entrepreneurship, And The Next Wave Of Innovation

Entrepreneur Offers India’s Aboriginal Children Opportunity to Attend School

From the transcript of a segment on a PBS (USA public television) program some months back (click above to go to the video) that gets us thinking about our outreach programs in south India:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Here, education begins with meeting the most basic needs on an industrial scale and free of charge to the students.

ACHYUTA SAMANTA: Now they’re going for lunch.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: How many students?

ACHYUTA SAMANTA: It is approximately now 8,000-plus are going for lunch.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eight thousand?

These students followed 10,000 others who have just finished. It takes four shifts of 45 minutes to get everyone their lunch, most days a staple rice and lentil curry. They will be back a few hours later for supper. With the exception of the actual cooking, students help out with almost everything: serving food, cleaning, even producing their own clothing.

ACHYUTA SAMANTA: For us, the challenge is finance. If I would have more finance, I would have been able to give them more comfortable…

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With more money, he said he’d provide better food and more comfortable living conditions. Dormitories are so crowded, some younger children must share bunks.

The academic challenge is even greater. The school has to teach students from over 60 tribes with distinct languages and customs.

ACHYUTA SAMANTA (through translator): Our major concern was how to bring all these children under one roof and mold a single curriculum without sacrificing their own heritage and traits. So over the years, we have tried to strike a balance.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Students spend time in craft work and programs to help preserve and retain indigenous traditions and languages. Classes are taught in the official regional language, Oriya, until high school, when students switch to English.

We caught some of them practicing one evening.

STUDENT: And you see the students are studying….

The whole video segment here.

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