January 30, 2010

Sarathy's life

Sarathy is in class six. He studies at a high school run by nuns off the East Coast Road and lives on the fringe of a small patch of paddy fields his father owns, handed down the generations.
One of three children, Sarathy likes to go to school but when it comes to homework and serious study he does not sweat over it.
He would rather explore the world outside.
We met Sarathy during a recent visit of this area, once hit by the tsunami. He was sitting on the edge of the Buckingham Canal and watching the waters closely.
He should have been in school that Wednesday but he had told his class teacher that he would like to rest - since he was recovering from a stomach ailment.
Instead of going home he had set up locally-made traps in the quiet waters of the Canal and hoped to net a dozen crabs before the sun went down that day. They would make a great curry for dinner.
Other boys, who rarely went to school spent more time netting prawns in the inland waterway and selling them to the well-heeled who sped to Pondicherry in their Xylos.
Sarathy was glad to have our company. He left his post on the Canal, took us around the neighbourhood, told us about the histories of the church and the temple, picked up dried snake skins to tell us about the reptiles that haunted this area and introduced us to the kuppam, the fishermen and the fish.
As we sat on the catamaran and enjoyed the sea and the scenery he told us about the tides of this season and grabbed a few baby crabs and displayed them as if in a zoology lab.
His immense knowledge and experience of the place, his environment and his community impressed us.
What sort of education would be best for these Sarathys? How could one build on the immense knowledge and the skills they possess?
His class seven friend wants to become a civil engineer. Sarathy's elder brother wants to go to a polytechnic. But Sarathy is still to make up his mind.
As a sprawling SEZ and residential city springs up on the other side of this highway, the kuppam people hope to see a fund of jobs - maids, drivers, electricians, watchmen.
The Sarathys though would impress in fisheries, ecology, environment.
Who will make the connect?

1 comment:

Girija said...

Hello Vincent

The blog on Sarathy is illustrative of how mainstream education, largely academic and abstract in nature is becoming increasingly irrelevant for 'life' and 'living' skills. In fact education is perhaps the only domain in which there has hardly been any innovation in the last 200 years !
I would like to refer you to a site called www.thenewconstructs.com
which also talks about the issue that you have raised and a possible approach to 'reinventing' education.

Girija Ram