We the sisters from the Ambatta community of Assumption are happy to share with you our experience of educating the girls in our boarding for transformation.
Our boarding was started during 1985 in collaboration with the Jesuit fathers, to impart educational opportunity for the tribal girls of Surgana Taluka in Nasik, Maharashtra. At the beginning we had very little infrastructure and facilities and we could accommodate only few girls. The parents also were not much motivated to send their daughters to schools since they are helping hands for their agriculture activities while the boys were always given preference for getting education. Through constant visit to the families we managed to convince the parents about the importance of education for the girls. As a result today we have more girls than boys studying the 10th( final grade) class in our school. The ratio of girls getting educated is increasing year after year. Education of the girls has slowly become a priority. This is a positive change that is happening among the people in Surgana taluka.
Today we have 187 girls in our boarding from the age group of 10 to 16. These girls are with us for 3 to 6 years. During these years we try to know each girl and their social background by visiting their families and villages. We have periodic meetings with their parents. This helps us to know each child personally and guide them according to their aptitude and personality.
Our boarding is in the same campus of the Jesuit school and boys boarding. We live as a large family sharing with the Jesuits a common vision and mission of promoting the integral development of each child. So the education we are giving is aimed at building character, and developing a value based life and human skills. We are trying to inculcate values of straightforwardness, honesty, simplicity, and respect for others, hospitality, ability to forgive and accept forgiveness. This gives the students freedom and spontaneity to express themselves as they are and how they feel about things. Recently there was a quarrel between 2 students and the junior student slapped the senior girl. She felt humiliated before all the students. She reported the matter to one of the sisters with an appeal that no action be taken on the girl who assaulted her since she is at wrong. The junior also came to the scene and apologized for her mistake and both of them went back hand in hand.
In the boarding the students are given different responsibilities to grow in leadership and to become responsible persons for themselves, their families and society. The different tasks allocated to different groups perform their duties with care and responsibility under the guidance of sisters. Recently we had organized a science exhibition in our campus and 82 schools have taken part in the exhibition. Being the host our students were given the different responsibilities to render service to the guest schools to make them at home. All those who came for the exhibition were pleasantly surprised to see the way our children carried out the different responsibilities entrusted to them. Many of the teachers and educational officials appreciated us saying “your students are very cheerful, responsible, well behaved and highly disciplined.” It made us happy and proud to see the transformation that is taking place in their life which they manifest as the situation and need arises.
For the intellectual and human development we help them to develop wider knowledge of the world and encourage their creativity. We insist the students to dream high which in turn help them to think and act creatively. The students are provided with good library to read different books, news papers and share their learning in the groups. To improve their capacity for reflection and critical thinking we organize debates on different issues like child marriage, dowry system and various different problems the women are facing the society. We motivate the cleverer students to help the weaker ones. The students are encouraged to save little amount of money from what they have in order to help a poor student to help someone in need of medical assistance. This is to help the students to develop social responsibility and sharing with those who are more deprived than themselves.
Transforming relationships is a key to personality development. The campus offers healthy, respectable and concerned interaction among the boys and girls living in the same campus. The various cultural activities and works jointly done are helping them to grow in maturity.
Though the students are animists they have a great sense of God. We help them to discover the seeds of God’s Word already present in them and in their culture. They have their daily prayers and reading of the life of Indian saints. We help them to discover the intervention of God in their life in various situations and in the joyful and painful events.
As a whole when we look at the education we are imparting to the students in Ambatta we feel lots of satisfaction and joy. We see the students are growing up as good human beings, responsible, disciplined, well behaved with good value system and skills and talents, ready to face life with courage. They are radiating a positive energy in the campus.
Sr. Deepa Erupulumkattil r.a.