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Women in Dang: Age no bar for education

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DANG, April 5:”Mathematics is a very difficult subject for me. I think I will pass it, but am not expecting to bring good marks,” former parliamentarian Shanta Chaudhari, presently an eighth grader said while sharing her daily occupation nowadays. “I am practicing this subject more than other subject and somewhere I feel I can get through in the exams,” she added.

Saga of her struggle as Kamlari (a bonded labor) when she was young and later as an ‘uneducated’ parliamentarian is commonly known, thanks to her popular book ‘Kamlari to lawmaker’. She has been appreciated for her relentless efforts to change her own and the lives of people around her. While Chaudhari is considered as an icon today and she continues to inspire many, her life is common these days. She is one of the common students in a local school in Dang who recently worked hard to pass district l0evel examination of class eight.

“I was not lucky enough to go to school when I was young. But education is very important for the development of our personality and for making us better than we are. So, I am trying to further my studies,” she said.

Chaudhari always had passion for education. The value became even more evident when she was chosen as a lawmaker under proportionate representation during the first constituent assembly. She feels that she was mocked for being an ‘uneducated lawmaker’ and it was very hard for her to bear it, she shares. “It felt as if it was attack on my dignity. And that bitter experiences strengthened my will to complete my formal education,” she said.

Her school is located at Gogli town of Dang. Due to political and domestic engagements she is not much regular to school. However, she has managed to attend the minimum attendance required for appearing in the examinations. “My party work as well as duty at home does not allow me to go to school everyday. But I make sure that I attend classes that adhere to the minimum attendance mandatory for being allowed to appear in the exams.”

Though not regular at school, Shanta studies at home. And this has given him additional hardships in subjects like mathematics. Despite her attempts to understand the textbook exercise through examples, she sometimes finds the problems hard to crack. “When sir explains that in school, I get it so easily. But when I try doing the same on my own, it doesn’t work, but I nevertheless try to solve as many of them as possible at home and ask whatever I cant to teacher at school.”

The realization of requiring teachers guidance, Chaudari says, has forced her into becoming more regular to school. “I am thinking to be more regular at school. We really need to attend classes to perform well in exam,” she stated.

Chaudhari, however is not alone at the school. Pabitra Yogi, a 32-year old woman studies along with her. “My family was very poor due to which it cannot afford my education. Subsequently I was married off when I was in seventh grade. Studying just remained an unfulfilled dream,” she said. “Today, I feel lucky to get a rare chance to complete my education. I want to make best use of it,” she added.

Though determination is strong, the courses are no less challenging. Making sense of what she studied 15-years back bewilders her often. “It’s very hard to continue study after such a long gap. But you can’t give up when opportunity comes your way.”

When Yogi noticed some women of her age going to school in her own locality, she felt like she could also be among them. She shared this desire with her family members and to her surprise, they agreed. “I felt like may be I could have made it to school even earlier, if I had tried. For a moment I regretted I lost many years for not sharing my feelings with family,” said Yogi. She feels age is no bar to education.

Just like Chaudhari, Yogi wants to secure good marks in examinations. She is also planning to get tuition for tough subjects. “I feel that I will get through this examination. To do better in studies, I’m planning to be regular at school as well as join tuition classes,” she said. Mathematics is her weakest subject, too.

Growing number of women are joining formal school in Dang these days. They have broken the notion that education is elusive after marriage. Instead, love for education is quite apparent among the ladies, who were earlier deprived of education due to various reasons. Manju Thapa, 21, is another example of this. “My education came to a halt while I was in seventh grade and was married off. But now back to school, I feel I have been given a great opportunity by family members to live my dream,” Thapa said.