“The pursuit of truth permits a child to be one forever.”

3 06 2011

title from Albert Einstein

by Joy Ogunmuyiwa

May 30, 2011

3:15 pm

Dimapur, Nagaland

 

The shops are usually three or four stories high. This is the view from one of the restaurants.

Because the laws of nature dictate that life can’t be perfect, my camera charger melted back in Pune, most likely due to voltage issues. So, we decided to head into the marketplace on Monday and try to find a Canon dealer there. Shops do not open on Sunday so I used that as a day to just walk around the university.

Gathering from the experience from the night before, I sort of braced myself for the looks that was undoubtedly going to come as we went in search of the charger. What I wasn’t ready for, however, was a little boy who followed us for the entire afternoon in the marketplace. It was funny, because he was literally walking behind me for the four hours that we were searching for a battery charger (that we never found). Towards the end of our short time together, he mustered up his courage, and started trying to ask me questions as we crossed the busy roads. 

Unfortuntately, I only know a few words and couldn’t understand what he kept yelling. But I knew something was up when Pele started laughing. I then asked what he was saying and she replied, “Let me touch your hair! Please, let me touch your hair!”  I was a little concerned though because we walked a quite a bit away from where we had first met him. What I didn’t realize, however, was that he was most likely not where he was supposed to be, as the majority of kids would have been in school at that time.

It wasn’t until one of the interviews I had that I was able to put two and two together about the little boy. It was a really enlightening insight into the school system in Nagaland. There is a question that asks: Does the child you care for go to school? Rebecca, the caregiver, answered yes, however, there is an unofficial “class system” within the school system, where the rich get better schooling, no matter public of private, and the poor have to deal with “leftovers”.

Rebecca, a caregiver, who explained the Nagaland school system.

She said the poorer families have to spend twice the amount of time at home teaching the children what they should have learned in school, to make them competitive when they look for a job later. A major problem she explained, is that many children skip school, because a few years ago, they did away with detention programs. The kids are not held accountable and roam the streets, sometimes getting into trouble, sometimes working for their parents, sometimes joining gangs, –or sometimes following strange people in the marketplace.

 

Her biggest fear for the child that she cares for, was that he would follow in the footsteps of his older brothers, who had joined gangs at an age where they should have been in school. However, what impresses her the most of the child is even though he came from a different village and speaks a different but vaguely similar language, he is actually doing very well in school and catching up to his peers.

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