Usha Rani Solanki
Faculty member, Sandhan, Rajasthan
It was an amazing experience for me to be a part of ASER recheck process. It was not an easy task as I had thought earlier. Mitali (Research Associate from ASER) and I travelled together to two different villages of Ajmer district for two days (22nd and 23rd November). We were supposed to find at least 10 houses from each village where the survey had been conducted by another ‘Team’. I want to mention that this ‘team’ was a group of young students from Central University. These students spared their valuable time to do the survey voluntarily. The thing which surprised me was this ‘Volunteer Work.’ As we all know volunteers work upon some kind of motivation. During recheck I saw the hard work done by these young students in the villages but could not figure out the reason for their motivation.
The ASER survey has a proper guideline. The surveyor has to go to the interior of villages, and prepare a map of the locality. Then divide it into four parts and go to each part and choose the houses to survey. Sometimes one part is very far from the other; still they have to follow the given rules for the survey. They go to the houses, meet the parents and test the target age group of children on Literacy, Basic Mathematics and English. I am sure it was not an easy task.
What motivated them to conduct this difficult survey without any monitoring, not getting any money for it or getting rewarded in any other way? This question came to my mind each time I met with the surveyed people who validated their genuine efforts.
Then I thought –“Did they do it because it is related to national interest?” I don’t know the exact reason but if it is because of their concern for the national interest, then for me it is an amazing thing to know. I must appreciate the spirit of these youth, and also congratulate ASER who could identify it and were able to utilize it.
Image has to be changed- a personal experience
Mitali and I were standing on the road side in one of the surveyed villages. We had to go to a “Dhani” (hamlet) of the village which was 3 km from the main village. There was no transport facility. We had no option but to take a lift from someone. We waited for sometime but nobody came who could give us a lift. Finally, we decided to walk ahead. After a few minutes of walk we saw a Jeep coming from behind. We tried to stop it and ask for the lift. There were four or five men sitting inside. At first we hesitated to get in but then we saw a woman running towards us. She also wanted to go to the “Dhani”, so the three of us boarded the Jeep. As we entered, all the men looked at as with curiosity. We did not react to it. Then the driver asked- “Why are you going to the Dhani?”
We had been asked this question many times by the villagers so we replied by saying – “we are here for a survey. It is about education.” The driver repeated the word- Education???
The discussion started. All four men began to talk about the irresponsible behavior of the teachers in government schools. They all seemed equally dissatisfied with the education which was being given to their children. Initially they blamed the teachers and then they started blaming the whole government fraternity of education. The conclusion was:
“Sab Goverment Karmchariyon ne bigaad rakha hai. Sab theek ho jaaye agar in government karmchariyon ko kas diya jaaye. Jab tak inko seedhi tankhwaah milti rahegi tab tak sab aise hi chalta rahega.”
This means government should ensure the accountability of its employees. They are the ones responsible for the disaster and only they can repair it. During their conversation they repeated the phrase “Government Karmchari (worker)” in a derogatory manner many times. It hit me each time. I don’t know why. I just thought that this image has to change.