Many of today’s youth in Bihar are often said to be “na ghar ka hai, na ghat ka hai” — meaning, neither here, nor there. With over 97% of children now enrolled in school and over 60% of the population attending tuition classes, fewer and fewer children are focused on learning the traditional professions, like agriculture (cf. ASER – Annual Status of Education Report 2018). Yet, the children are not learning enough to join the formal sector in the state, which mainly consists of government employment opportunities. After failing in joining the formal sector, they are not only unable, but also unwilling to go back to the formal sector. As a result, in Bihar, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to be unemployed.
So please meet Charan, a young leader from the Adivasi community nearby who is mobilizing the children from his community to Project Potential’s learning center. At this learning center, children are given the opportunity to basic literacy, meditation, activity-based learning, digital literacy and a maker-space to be as creative as they want to be. I had the opportunity to interview Charan:
Charan defies stereotypes of youth in Bihar, not because he is the most educated in his village but because his potential and his passion to move his community forward speaks volumes. In our interview, Charan speaks about the barriers that his community faces. He explains that in the past, his community held their own lands but due to several circumstances, they had to be sold. Once having sold these lands to tea plantation owners, it began the vicious cycle of depending on them for a livelihood. Many of the women work as tea-pluckers for very low wages. Charan explains that because of the low resources, even though there are many government sponsored initiatives, his village simply does not profit from them.
Charan then goes on to speak about the illiteracy that plagues his community, hoping that if a mere two other leaders were to become literate, it might change the entire community. From those thoughts, Charan then defines what development and education mean to him and whether or not those things must go hand in hand. He rightfully points out that education alone cannot be enough, but that crucial thinking must also match. Charan is a prime example of looking beyond stereotypes that often keep people back, and to look at the dedication and potential of local change-makers.
This video is apart of the Breaking the Bihari Stereotype series, which focuses on the voice of Charan, our community mobilizer. I hope this video paints a bigger picture of who he is and how he is mobilizing his community with limited resources available.