The one room school house was the standard in education in rural towns in this country up until the beginning of the 20th Century. Children walked to school, so each geographic area had a small area where the children were taught by a single teacher. Generally the school encompassed grades one through eight and might have as many as thirty students. As rural communities grew, transportation became available and the need for labs and computers evolved, public and private schools became the norm.
The scene here is not from the turn of the century, it was just taken from the Jagat Jyoti School in India this past month when the new school year began. This classroom is not only the center of learning over 100 students ranging in age from 6 through 14, but it also serves as the school lunch room – in the photo they are having a meal.
These children, known as the cobra children, are thrilled to be able to receive an education as one would not be offered to them by the government since they are among the lowest caste of India. For the teachers, however, who strive to give them the tools that they will need to make a difference in their lives and their families’ lives, teaching so many grades all together in such cramped conditions becomes a challenge.
There are really two Indias – the first India – the modern India. The second, and much larger, India is an entirely different world. Nearly three-quarters of the country’s population live in rural areas characterized by grinding poverty and social injustice – this India has been bypassed by progress and opportunity. (Two India’s – One Future. Web article).
The work of our India partners falls into the second India. The children that they teach will not be able to succeed in society if they are not given opportunities to develop the skills that are offered to those in modern India.
Without separate classrooms and the ability to teach a variety of grade appropriate curricula these children will still be at a disadvantage. Good Samaritan Sewa Kendra currently owns about ten acres of land and has a plan in place for a new school which would offer 8 classrooms to accommodate separation of the various grades. The total cost of the project is estimated at just under $85,000 US Dollars.
In 2007, HIM’s former director, Harold Stevens, went to be with the Lord. His family set up the Harold Stevens Memorial Fund to honor Harold through the building of this school in India. To date the fund has received about 20% of the amount necessary to complete this project. We continue to pray for this the school and we continue to seek grant opportunities to supplement the fund and to aid these children.
As we look out around us at our often “taken for granted” world, we need to remember our roots in the one room school house when the number of school-aged children was small and teachers were not readily accessible. Our partners in India have teachers, and they are not dealing with a small number of school-aged children, but they are still in the one room school house.
They are accepting as many children as their small complex with handle, but there are hundreds more wanting and needing an education. They are teaching in 1800’s standards in a 21st century world. Help the children to have an opportunity to go to school and to learn about the love of our Lord and Savior – bring them into the light!