TheUntamedEarth in Konkan Schools

TheUntamedEarth  in  Konkan  Schools

Our  Presentation

Our Presentation

29 th Pakshimitra   Sammelan  in  Sawantwadi   was  the   catalyst  and  this  paved  the  way  for  the  Konkan  tour  of  TheUntamedEarth  in  January  2016. During  this  trip  we  were  to  cover  four  schools  from  four  different  villages  in  Lanja  Taluka , off  Ratnagiri.

The  villages  were  Talawade, Khanavali, Poonas  and  finally  Vangule.

We  thought  that  it  would  be  most  appropriate  extension  of  our  Educational  and  Awareness  activities  on  Biodiversity  and  Environment.  This  is  an  ongoing  programme  and  this  activity  has  been  taken  to  schools  in  certain  villages  off  Pune.  We  thought  that  a  visit  to  rural  schools  in  konkan  will  give  us  a  different  perspective …  and  it  did !

Geographically ,  the  Sahyadris -  Maharashtra  part  of  the  Western  Ghats  create  the  Coastal Belt,  or  the  Konkan   and   the  Deccan Plateau,  which  is  at  a  higher  level.  Geographically, culturally  and    economically  these  are  totally  different.  The  lush  green,  undulating  terrain,  contrasting  shades  of  green  of  coconut  palms,  beetle  nuts,  jackfruit, mangoes, cashew  against  the  characteristic  brick  red  soil. Typical  houses  built  with  the  large  blocks  of  laterite  stone – ‘jambha  chira’,  with  sloping  tiled  roofs  dot  the area,  peeping  out  of  greenery.

 

The Lush Green Konkan

The Lush Green Konkan  

 

'Janaki Datta Nivas' ... The house where we stayed ... note the small temple in front.

‘Janaki Datta Nivas’ … The house where we stayed … note the small temple in front.

 

This  region  of  Maharashtra  is  blessed  with  ethereal  beauty, the  beaches,  the  forests  and  an  amazingly  rich  biodiversity.  Unfortunately   because  of  its  hardy  terrain,  this  region  has  never  been  integrated  in  the  mainstream  and  even  today  so  many  of  its  areas  are  inaccessible  by  a  vehicle.  We  have  communities  of  small  residential  complexes  or  ‘Wadis’  in  such  areas.  There  are  many  children  here  and  all  of  them  need  schooling.  This  alone  will  tell  you  about  the  basic  difficulty  of  primary  and  secondary schooling  in  Konkan.  In  keeping  with  the  Government  Policy,  there  are  educational  facilities  even  in  the   remote  areas  like  a  ‘Dhangarwadi’  or  the  shepherd  colony,  typically  outside  a  village  in  a  hilly  terrain. In  fact, we  were  acquainted  with  one  teacher  who  regularly  hiked  to  reach  his  assigned  school  in  a   dhnagarwadi.

Typically  schooling  can  be  in  stages  - primary  education  close  to  residences,  then  schools  up to  7th  standard  with  a  slightly  larger  draining  area  and  then   8th  to  10th standards  in  a   larger  place,  often  catering  to  children  from  a  few  adjoining  villages.  Larger  villages  had  a  school  right  from  primary  to  10th  standard.  In  some  larger  localities  there  are  plans  to  set  up  Junior  colleges.

The  terrain  in  these  four  villages  varied  from  typical  undulating   lush  green   Konkan  to  harsh,  hot,  bare,  barren,  laterite  plateau.

 

Open Ground and lush green Konkan backdrop at one school

Open Ground and lush green Konkan backdrop at one school   

 

Bare and barren laterite flatland for another school

Bare and barren laterite flatland for another school

 

This  is  where  TheUntamedEarth  presented  its  lectures.  Surprisingly  the  schools  had  a  good  infrastructure.  They  were  all  equipped  with  computer  labs  and  had their  own  projection  facilities  (  except  one  but  it  was  arranged).  One  school  even  boasted  of  a  Gymnasium.  Presentations  were  arranged  in  makeshift  areas  but  one  school  had  its  own  hall.  These  schools  were  built  on  land  donated  by  some  philanthropists   and  run  by  educational  trusts.  If  there  was  anything  lacking  it  was  more  than  compensated  by  the  sheer  enthusiasm  of  the  students  and  the  phenomenal  support  and  involvement, not  only  of  the  school  principals of  the  individual  schools  but  their  entire  staff  and  even  some  members  of  the  trusts  governing  these  schools.

 

A very warm welcome and reception ... a common feature at all the schools

A very warm welcome and reception … a common feature at all the schools

 

A delightful audience was a common feature !

A delightful audience was a common feature !

 

@ Talawade school

@ Talawade school

 

@ Khanavali school ... this was on a bare, barren  flatland

@ Khanavali school … this was on a bare, barren flatland

 

@ Poonas school ... a make shift 'auditorium'

@ Poonas school … a make shift ‘auditorium’

 

@ Vangule school ... again  a  make shift 'auditorium'

@ Vangule school … again a make shift ‘auditorium’

 

Beautifully written welcome banner and the student artist

Beautifully written welcome banner and the student artist

 

... another welcome banner !

… another welcome banner !

 

This girl hikes to school every day ... there is no bus !

This girl hikes to school every day … there is no bus !

 

We  found  that  the  trusts  managing  these  schools  were  very  progressive  and  dyanamic  with  the  involvement  of  some  locals.  The  staff,  the  students  seemed  to  have  bonded  as  a  family. Our  reception  was  very  warm,  enthusiastic,  even  bordering  on  elaborate.  Some  students  actually  walked  to  school.  Even  a  small  walk  in  this  terrain  with  its  ups  and  downs  is  no  garden  walk.  And  there  were  those  who  walked  3  to  4  kms.  one  way  to  reach  school.  One   girl,  a  resident  of  a  Dhangarwadi  actually  hiked , yes  hiked,  almost  an  hour   over  4  kms.  one  way  to  reach  school.  We  were  highly  impressed  with  their  sheer  dedication.  It  seems  that  they   and  their parents   do  realize  that  education  is  their  salvation  and  a  gateway  to  a  better  life .  There  are  enough  incentives  from  the  government  but  the  prospects  of  better  life  are  hard  to  beat. Perhaps  this  is  the  reason  why  we   felt  there  was  a  sheer  emphasis  on  education….

The  compatibility  issues  between  our  systems  were  very  patiently  eliminated  while  the  students  waited  expectantly  and  with  curious  excitement.  The  initial  distance  between  us  and  the  students   evaporated  as  they  became  our  friends. Their  animated  faces  reflected  their  emotions,  as  our  visuals  hit  the  screen. We  also  made  it  a  point  to  share  our  findings  with  the  students, like  the  images  of  Malabar  Pied  Hornbills  at  a  ‘Devrai’   or  ‘Sacred   Grove’  near  one  of  the  villages….incidentally  we  were  fascinated  to  see  such  a  large  no.  of  hornbills,  at  least  8  together.

We  found  that  these  kids  were  extremely  talented,   capable  of  varied  tasks  because  of  their  circumstances,  extremely  hardy  because  of  their  terrain  and  very  aware  of  their  beautiful  environment  in  a  general  manner … for  eg.  we  met  a  young  girl  who  not only  takes  care  of  household  chores, but  also  helps  in  cooking, milking  the  cows  and  has  even  helped   in  the  delivery  of  a  cow … now  how  many  from  a  city  can  match  this ?

 

Sharing some beautiful moments from their villages with the students

… Sharing some beautiful moments from their villages with the students …

 

We  seriously  felt  that  they  could  be  made  more  aware  of  their  rich  natural  wealth  and  environment  and  shared  our  documentation  with  them. We  also  felt  that  introduction  to  subjects  like  environmental  sciences, wildlife  sciences, various  new  branches  of  botany  and  zoology  etc.  which  might  even  lead  to  career  choices  would  be  a  good  idea. They  would  also  do  well  with  vocational  courses. Most  of  the  schools  had  good  results  at  SSC  and  there  were  quite  a  few  who  were  pursuing  higher  professional  programmes  like  engineering.  We  sincerely  and  seriously  feel  that  it  is  this  and  such  groups  of  students  who  must  be  accorded  concessions  as  well  as  reservations  in  higher  education  – without  any  considerations  to  their  caste  etc – so  as  to  enable  them  to  be  at  par  with  the  mainstream  students  from  our  urban  areas.

… it  is  impossible for  a  typical  urban  dweller  to  even  imagine  this  kind  of  life, unless  they  experience  it  first  hand !

We  have  suggested  that  certain  continuing  activities  can be  planned  with the  participation  of    interested  students  under  supervision  of  teachers  and   look  forward  to  further  interactions.

Of  course  there  are  distractions  as  well  as  problems … commuting  as  well  as  lack  of  opportunities … but  we  are  positive  of  a  bright  tomorrow  and  happy  that  we  were  a  part  of  their  lives,  albeit  for  a short  while. It  would  not  be  out  of  place  to  mention  that  this  entire  exercise  was  one  very  enriching  experience  for  us  in  more  ways  than  one  and  we  probably  gained  as  much  or  even  more  than  what  we  offered :)

Drs  Ujwala  and  Sanjeev  Shevade

TheUntamedEarth

VIVANT  UNTAMED EARTH   FOUNDATION

…………………………..

The  entire  exercise  was  made  possible  because  of  some  wonderful  help  and  co ordination  of  the  following.

-  Shri  Avi  Bagav -Javde  and  Lanja, for  putting  it  all together

- Shri  Vasant  Shevade  – Vangule  and  Pune  for  facilitating  our  stay  at  Vangule

-  Shri  Raja  Shevade  – Vangule, for  hosting  us  for  some  unforgettably  delicious  dinners.

 Amazing  biodiversity  of  Konkan … 

While  it  is  impossible  to  document  the  rich  natural  splendour  of  this  beautiful  terrain  in  just  one  visit  and  that  too  in  one  season, we  have  decided  to  showcase  at  least  a  few  from  our  visit … here  they  are  as  some  representative  images !

We  shared  them  with  our  audience  and  urged  them  to  look  around  and  document  as  well !

 

Insects ...

Insects  Diversity … Common  Four  Ring, Preaying  Mantis

 

Floral  Diversity ... UL Clockwise ... 1. Rosy  Eranthemum - जंगली अबोली, दासमुळी, 2. Ironwood Tree - अंजन 3. Nilgiri  or  Tentacled  Haplanthodes - निळा जकारा 4. ? 5. Pierced  Leaf  Canscora -  मोठा किलवर

Floral Diversity … UL Clockwise … 1. Rosy Eranthemum – जंगली अबोली, दासमुळी, 2. Ironwood Tree – अंजन  3. Nilgiri or  Tentacled Haplanthodes – निळा जकारा 4. ?  5. Pierced Leaf Canscora – मोठा किलवर

 

Avian  Diversity.UL Clockwise ... 1. Green  Bee  Eater - वेडा राघू  2. Jungle  Babbler - सातभाई 3.  Plum  Headed  Parakeet - पंचरंगी पोपट  4. White  rumped  Munia - पांढऱ्या पाठीची मनोली  5. Paradise  Flycatcher -  स्वर्गीय नर्तक  6. Common  Iora - सुभग

Avian Diversity.UL Clockwise … 1. Green Bee Eater – वेडा राघू 2. Jungle Babbler – सातभाई 3. Plum Headed Parakeet – पंचरंगी पोपट 4. White rumped Munia – पांढऱ्या पाठीची मनोली 5. Paradise Flycatcher – स्वर्गीय नर्तक 6. Common Iora – सुभग

 

Avian  Diversity. Top : Common  Kestrel -  देव ससाणा, Bottom : Malabar  Pied  Hornbill - मलबारचा कवड्या धनेश

Avian Diversity. Top : Common Kestrel – देव ससाणा, Bottom : Malabar Pied Hornbill – मलबारचा कवड्या धनेश

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11 Responses to TheUntamedEarth in Konkan Schools

  1. Meena says:

    Lovely work and great initiative. If these children could also some gardening skills, collect seed and create beautiful wild gardens, would make everything more fruitful for the future.

    • Thank you for your comments and suggestions … these children are quite resourceful and we are positive that a different exposure and different perspective will give their imagination and prowesses new wings !

  2. tushar patil says:

    Great effort by both of you. Nicely narrated write up … feels like a little kokan trip while reading.

    • Thank you … the more we have travelled, the more we have realized the need of such presentations … urban and rural backdrops are different … but the need for awareness exists … a lot can be accomplished if the young brigade gets motivated and involved ! … we are looking forward to it !

      • Alka katdare says:

        Good going as always. Kokan is ‘supik’ in all respects and shd not lag behind for want of resources.

      • Alka katdare says:

        Good going as always. Kokan is ‘supik’ in all respects and shd not lag behind for want of resources.

        • Yes, this is exactly what we feel as well … but Konkan or any such or similar regions, access to opportunities should not be dictated by geographical zones … we still feel that the natural splendour of this beautiful region should be explored, documented and preserved … we sincerely hope that our small efforts are fruitful in this direction !

  3. Sanjeev Damle says:

    Dr. Ujwala and Sanjeev,
    Remarkable and Outstanding work..The expressions on the students’ faces say it all. Very heartwarming to show them the beautiful and diverse nature that is around them and their inheritance..

    • Thank you … it was an enriching experience for us as well … if they have opened their eyes to their ‘inheritance’, we feel that our small efforts were worth it all :)

  4. P Chandrasekaran says:

    Thanks to Dr. Seshan Natarajan who introduced me this web site. Having been involved in Tamilnadu Foundation for nearly two decades helping the people of Tamilnadu in the areas of Education, Health, Hygiene, Rural Development and Women Empowerment, it was very interesting for me to go through one of your articles about the School in Konkan area.
    It would mean be my pleasure to keep in. Touch with you .
    With the best wishes,
    P. Chandrasekaran

    • Thank you for visiting the website and your kind words … happy to know about your involvement and activities … you have summarized them so well … do stay in touch … good to have you as a friend of TheUntamedEarth :)

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