Photographer: SUDIPTO DAS
Title: Endless Dreams
Location: Jharkhand, India
Period: 01/2021 - 01/2021
Category: Solutions

With no smart phones and internet connectivity for online classes, a headmaster of a poorest tribal-dominated remote village in Jharkhand, India has transformed the entire village into a classroom. Sapan Kumar, 40, the young energetic local school headmaster has emerged as a torchbearer and lead by example to keep the education accessible to the students where online classes are a distant cry in the pandemic era. During the first and second waves of COVID19 pandemic, the education sector has been badly affected. Indian Government took initiative to launch an e-education programe, where students can take online lessons with the help of smart phones and internet connectivity. But here in the remote tribal village more than 90% students come from families living far below poverty level. With little to no mobile connectivity, smartphones are a distant dream here as most of the villagers work as daily waged migrant labourers to different parts of India. Born and brought up in a poor family, Kumar's love towards education finally came up with an inspirational idea to turn the mud-made village walls into blackboards to keep the learning habit activated among the poor students.
Every fourth day a child is trafficked from Jharkhand – a state that is striving relentlessly to keep its children in school and prevent child labour. The National Crime Records Bureau report, released in 2018, says that a total of 373 cases of human trafficking — the highest in India. Among these, 314 cases involved trafficking of minor girls. Child marriage, too, happens to be one of the reasons for trafficking of minor girls from the state. Girl children are often found working in brickfields too.
Kumar believes girl’s education is the only solution to these problems and thus his relentless effort to ensure that not a single girl of his area has left uneducated. He also believes educating a girl child is the most important since a literate mother will never leave her kid uneducated.

Endless Dreams 01

Morning prayer before commencement of the open air village school where converted the mud walls of the huts are converted to blackboard during the pandemic time Some of the students are so poor that they come to the school barefoot

Endless Dreams 02

Sapan Kumar the headmaster of a local middle school teaches students at Khargdiha village Each student gets a separate blackboard keeping in mind to maintain social distancing norms The school has four teachers including the headmaster and they attend classes in rotation The students are given assignments to solve given by their teachers through loudspeakers br Recently in the adjacent Khargdiha village a similar set up has been made where about 40 blackboards are drawn on mud walls A similar arrangement has been made at two points in a nearby village Two teachers each move around in two villages

Endless Dreams 03

Sonmuni Murmu 9 good at mathematics Her father Rajlal Murmu works as a daily waged labour in the hotel sector in Mumbai and Chennai COVID19 has taken his job Rajlal wants to continue Sonumuni s education and will never insist on her early marriage He wants her daughter to be a Govt officer in future and doesn t want to pay dowry for his daughter s marriage Sonumuni has an elder brother who is also learning in a school

Endless Dreams 04

Daily life of Dumarthar village Child trafficking is common in the village Young girls are lured by marriage in other states finally ends up at prostitution Kumar believes girl s education is the only solution to these problems Most of the villagers here are living far below the poverty level with a monthly earning less than 100

Endless Dreams 05

Teacher Sapan Kumar poses for a group photo with the students of the village school of Jharkhand This creative and unconventional way of conducting school classes has caught many attention and authorities in the region