Boro Baski was the first in his village to receive a formal education and now he is making sure that others do too. | To read the full story with more photos, click here >>
[…] “Everyone wants to learn but the problem is atmosphere, the medium of teaching and the method of teaching, besides the facts of economics. It is the reason why tribal children find it difficult to integrate with the mainstream.”
Another factor is the cost of schooling. According to a 2015 report by the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development, the annual secondary school drop-out rate among Indigenous children in India is just above 40 percent compared with the national average of about 25 percent. The ministry lists “economic” issues as the biggest reason for the dropouts – families just cannot afford to keep their children in school. […]
“Our idea of development is based on a very old idea taken up by many great minds such as Mahatma Gandhi and [the poet] Rabindranath Tagore,” Baski explains. “It is about development from within. Development through the strength of the community’s own.”
In 1996, the NGO went one step further, opening a day school – the Rolf Schoemb Vidyashram (RSV) – close to the villages of Bishnubati and Ghosaldanga (Vidyashram means the “house of learning”).
The school, which offers free education, also provides hot meals to encourage poor parents to send their children. Its ethos is one of community, with programmes devised and implemented by members of the community rather than by outsiders who might not be familiar with the strengths of and issues faced by local people. […]
Baski, who holds a doctorate in education and a master’s in social work from Viswa Bharati University, says he is happy being an educator. He has become a strong voice of the community not just in India but elsewhere, writing articles and books, and representing his community at conferences.
He is also dedicated to preserving Santhal cultural heritage.
In 2007, GASS built a small museum in Bishnubati to preserve some 100 artefacts, including weapons, musical instruments, photographs and medicinal herbs, that represent the community. Most of the artefacts were donated by tribal elders from across the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. They include silver jewellery once owned by Baski’s mother.
“The idea is to tell the world that we are not just happy-go-lucky people, as perpetuated by the mainstream media,” he says. “We have held expertise in hunting and fishing tools, in sophisticated music and medicines, for generations. It is just that this expertise was never spoken about.” […]
“What I do yearn for is for our children to be proud of their cultural heritage and preserve the traditions we hold so close.”
As if to demonstrate, as the sun begins to set, Baski takes his flute from his office drawer and plays a traditional tune.
Source: “The Indian school where Indigenous children are ‘never outsiders” by Rosemary Marandi (Aljazeera.com Education, 10 February 2020)
Date visited: 18 July 2020
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- Audio | Santali Traditional and Fusion Songs: Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust
- Education and literacy | Right to education
- eBook | Free catalogue: Banam: One of the ancient musical instruments of the Santals
- eBook | Free catalogue: Museum of Santal Culture (Bishnubati) – West Bengal
- eBook | “Santals Celebrate the Seasons”: Creativity fostered by Ashadullapur Gramin Silpa & Sastha Bidhan Kendra – West Bengal
- eJournal | Writing and teaching Santali in different alphabets: A success story calling for a stronger sense of self-confidence
- Homes and utensils
- Indigenous knowledge systems
- Multi-lingual education
- Museum of Santal Culture Bishnubati
- Santal | Santal Parganas | The Santals by Boro Baski | Santal music
- Santal democratic organisations, customs, history and creation traditions (book tip)
- Santali language | eBook | A Santali-English dictionary – Archive.org
- Santal mission
- Santali translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Vidyasagar-Charit” and “Raktakarabi”
- Seasons and festivals
- Teaching Santal children by Boro Baski
- Traditional music instruments of the Santals at the Museum of Santal Culture
- Video | Roots and Branches: The Lifeworld of an Enlightened Villager in West Bengal
- Video | Santali video album “Ale Ato” (Our Village, Part 1 of 2) – West Bengal
- Video & eLearning | “Cadence and Counterpoint: Documenting Santal Musical Traditions” – A virtual exhibition on Google Cultural Institute
To locate the Museum of Santal Culture in Bishnubati village (near Santiniketan) on the map seen below, open by clicking on the left button: