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Theater for Girls' Education

 

In various places of Golaghat district Girl Child education is in stake. Six critical areas were identified with elevated out-of-school girl child. These areas are mostly inhabited by the tea garden labourer communities.
Four issues hindering girls’ education here

1.    Burden of sibling care and household score
2.    Consideration of girls education as an wastage
3.    Relating education with employment and
4.    Domestic help in the form of Child labour

A script was prepared to highlight the issues. Language is tuned with adivasi accent. Jhumur and Madol Beats are used for greater acceptance. Child artists’ were planned to involve to make the emotions realistic.


 

One week’s residential training and rehearsal was conducted of 27 artists directed by Sawpunjyoti Thakur. The inauguration of the performances was on 8th March 2009 to commemorate The International Women’s Day in Dighalipam Kailaghat village.

Communities are mobilized in six other places too

  • They are Badulipara TE with 70 drop outs in Golaghat Central Block
  • Dooria TE in Kathalguri GP with 69 drop outs in Golaghat Central Block
  • Chingphura in Mokrong GP with 61 drop outs in Golaghat East Block
  • Missamora Bagan in Pachim Missamora GP in Golaghat North Block
  • Naharkhana Gaon in Tengani GP in Golaghat South Block and
  • Diffaloo Pathar in Pub Kaziranga GP in Golaghat West Block

In seven different places of Golaghat district the street theater ‘Puharar Bate Bate’ was conducted covering 5 academic blocks.

The script

The theater script is composed of 4 stories with fillers between any two stories. The performance starts with a Jhumur dance and song. This worked as a prelude, to settle the audience around the performance area. Immediately after this the first story starts.

Story of Numali

A scene of children catching fish in a fishpond and all the others members of the village were seen to be working for dewatering the pond. Numali was one of the girl children among them. Mother of Numali came to the scene with an infant in her lap and dragged Numali to help her in the household score and to take care of Numali’s sibling. The mother criticized her husband for enrolling her children in the schools which forced her to overwork at home. Community members along with her husband got into a heated argument with Numali’s mother to convince her importance of children education.

Through this story attempts were made to induce the audience on importance of girls’ education over the household scores and sibling care.

 

Story of Katangi

A scene of classroom teaching; the lady teacher was building on the ambitions of the children. Katangi, one girl child in the room was aspiring to be a pilot of aircraft. Out of the blue her father reaches the classroom to take her home. The teacher resisted but Katangi’s father expressed futility of girls’ education. He insisted that his son who is a student of the school should be taken care for and should be educated properly. He refused to allow her girl coming to the school as he feels that the girls are made to be a bride of somebody and will go away with all the investment made on her. It triggers argument with the teacher and the teacher convinces how important girls’ education is.


 

Story of Lakshmani

A professed gentleman comes from the town to meet Lakshmani’s father in the labour line of the tea garden. He tried and persuaded the father to bunk school and send Lakshmani as a domestic help. He pledged better food, cloth and life of Lakshmini as his domestic help. A hundred rupees tips fortified the father’s impulse to send his daughter to be a servant in town.

However, Lakshmani’s mother strongly protested the evil intention of her husband of plundering with Lakshmini’s future. She called her neighbours for support effectively. She wondered what kind of gentleman are they in the town that lures and forces poor girl child to bunk school and be domestic help!


 

Story of Putoli

There are no jobs in the offices. Even the graduate and postgraduate boys are not having any employment of any short. What is the point of wasting money for a girl’s education? Putoli’s father was happy for not sending Putoli to school.

However, in due course, he came across some physical ailment for which he had to visit a doctor. His condition deteriorated progressively in spite of taking the medicines given by the doctor. The doctor was called again to find that the medicine prescribed for post lunch was feed to the patient by his wife in empty stomach. As the wife is illiterate she failed to understand the instructions written in the prescription.

This was an eye opening for the father. The doctor also helped him to realize that ‘education’ has nothing to do with the employment in particular. Education is needed to make oneself a concerned, responsible, dependable and aware citizen. Without girls’ education, future of the families in our society will remain like the family of Putoli where mothers will kill their husbands with wrong treatment out of ignorance.


 

The finishing

All the actor and actresses standup at the end and sing in a folk appealing tone

Chua Shaiya
Shari Shari
Schoololoi Jai
Puharar Bate Bate
Jai Aguai Jai

Lora Chuali Buli
Kunu Probhed Nai
Shakaluke Porhashalit
Dia Nam Logai

The anchor of the theater comes to the forefront to address the audience and reassure background and the theme of the drama. He appeals to the audience to ensure and emphasize girls’ education as much as they give importance to the boys’ education. He also introduces all the members of the theater team to the audience.

Once the theater is over the floor was left open for discussion. The audiences come forward to express their views on the issues raised in the drama. Some audience also opined on the dramatic elements of the story and its performances.