Welcome Enthusiasts. Before we go any further and you get awestruck with innocent smiles and their uncanny stories, let’s go back 35 years in time.
A group of thinkers and activists started a social institution in south Odisha, an NGO which will fight against hunger and injustice. The name thus happened to be ‘Agragamee‘ – moving forward. People at Agragamee ceaselessly fought for its purpose. They showed courage in the face of adversities like corrupt institutions, capitalists, sloppy terrains and more.
They started with raising their voice against Illiteracy, with their mentor Chitta Bhai (Chittaranjan Das), an eminent educationist, writer and social reformer. Night schools for adults and children sprouted as a result, quickly increasing to 120 such spaces. The villages where they were working, were difficult to reach by conventional methods. The only ways were to climb mountains and passing through forests. Average literacy rate fluctuated between 0-5% and it was lower than average among women. government schools were non-existent or non-functioning. They took no ownership of educating children.
All such situations led Agragamee to build an institution which challenged the counterproductive system of education. It acted as a role-model for providing education to masses and helping children to fight their fears against caste and gender. Girl children were kept within walls of her house for daily chores and were deprived of quality primary education for a long time.
To bring tribal girls out of this, on 1st December 2004, Mukta Gyan Kutir School sprung in Kashipur district of Rayagada. Teachers used to constantly visit children in six villages which brought some of them to the school. It also developed a sense of ownership among parents and the community. Eventually, it became a school for local community which provides free education, uniform, breakfast, books and mid-day meals to girls, many of who belong to families struggling with food security.
Agragamee focuses on mother tongue education, whole language approach, innovative methods of teaching and learning. It is the only school here which appoints tribal youth as teachers. They train them to teach efficiently which results in them empathizing with students’ difficulty in learning and becoming their immediate role-model. Interestingly, a couple of teachers like Somayi and Lima have themselves studied at Agragamee’s night school before pursuing higher education. They’re hence motivated to bring their tribal community into light through quality education.
Now that you have some background and context of our school, let me take you through our lanes of cold weather, green mountains, drizzling rains, warm bright sun and lots of giggles: Khi-khi-khi
If you want to know about my life here in a village of Odisha, go through this comic about my inevitable experiences. You can help us at Agragamee by donating here for Agragamee Education Program CLDE (Creative Language Development Efforts) which aims to improve the level of education in 18 government schools and is helping tribal youth to become teacher companions.