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Fri, 06 Dec 2019

Northeast Today

The Disruptor Empowering the Underprivileged

The Disruptor Empowering the Underprivileged
August 05
16:41 2019

Bipin Dhane a graduate from IIT-Kharagpur in Naval Architecture who was working at a multinational company in Singapore, quitted his job and is now working for the underprivileged children from the indigenous Mising tribal community in Kulamu village, Majuli, the largest inhabited island district from Assam. Kristi Borah talks to this visionary young lad and gets to know about his trials & tribulations and his journey thus far.

KB: Tell us about yourself and your journey as the principal of Hummingbird School.

BD: I was working in Singapore and at that time I wanted to leave that job as I was not happy with it. I came to know about Majuli from one of my friend who was there with the deprived students.

I always wanted to work in India and I made up my mind that I will go to Majuli. When I came to this remote island I was shocked knowing the condition of the village and education there.

The villagers requested me to start a school. I had no money. The villagers arranged wood, bamboo, and other construction material and helped me in constructing this school.

And in January 2017, with 70 students we started the school.

First three years were challenging and it was not easy for us to manage food and everything. There was no vehicle to go here and there, however, things changed slowly. People who came to visit us said that they love the school and now we are looking at how we can bring more teachers from outside.

The locals treat us like their own. I think now we are in a very good state and I am happy that I am here.

Bipin Dhane

 

KB: How and when did the idea of establishing a school germinate?

BD: I did not have any idea before, but when they requested it was really very difficult for me to say NO and that’s how it all started.

KB: Please share with us about the current status of the school and its curriculum.

BD: Right now we have 240 students in our school and there are 70 students in the hostel. After one year many people asked us to open schools like this so we decided to come up with other schools keeping hummingbird school will as the centre.

Our curriculum is diverse. We teach them to dance, music, drama, football, kung-fu, bamboo-weaving, agriculture and here everything is activity based.

We are friends to our students; they are not scared of teachers.

Bipin Dhane

KB: What are the challenges that you have faced in your journey of turning this dream into reality?

BD: Starting was very difficult. I took money from friends, relatives, and loans from people. Slowly some people came forward to help us. In the year 2018, there was a heavy flood, the worst in the last 20 years that destroyed many things. Now we have repaired the damaged properties.

The biggest challenge is People don’t want to come to Majuli or Assam.

KB: Working for underprivileged children must be a blissful and soul pleasing experience. Tell us about your experience with the Mising community kids.

BD: It has been lovely. I love them. The very reason for staying here was I found love here. Our trust name ‘Aayang’ means love and affection. It’s been a very wonderful experience. The villagers never make me feel like an outsider. I feel like I am a part of this village too.

This place is so comforting and warm. Also in Bihu, our students went to every house, which was a pleasant experience.

KB: You have set an example by quitting your lucrative MNC job at Singapore to follow your desires. In spite of the language barrier, you have been working for the propagation of the needy students. Tell us about your works.

BD: I have learned Assamese; the Mising language is very tough. Initially, it was difficult to communicate with my students. But the students were so eager to talk to me and this was the reason they learned speaking English within 6 months.

The Mising community has so many problems. Apart from the school work, we ended up doing so many things like we have repaired the road and the bamboo bridge after the last year flood.

As of now, we are working with 5 government schools. Also, we are doing different library programs.

KB: How do you manage the financial expenses of running the school? Have you received aids from the government in this regard?

BD: We have not received any financial aid from the government yet. But yes few NGO’s are helping us.

KB: Since you had a stint in Singapore, tell us about the general living standards of the country. Also, share some things/aspects of the country which we can learn and adapt in India.

BD: Singapore, as you know, is a very developed country. The best thing I think of Singapore is its very safe. The education system is relatively good but it is completely test-oriented.

We can learn a lot from them. Singapore is clean and communal harmony prevails there. Everyone from different community lives together, learn together.

KB: What is your take on the current education system and the disparity in imparting education in the rural area in comparison to urban areas?

BD: There is so much while coming to education. Our education system is entirely marks oriented. Like last time in the class 12 results what all mattered was who topped the exam. It seems importance is given to only a few subjects like maths and science, but not much to extra-curricular activities. Students just count their pinnacle without focusing on what is exactly learned, how the subjects are taught, the pedagogy and all.

The biggest problem I among the student is they open the book and wait for the teachers to come and explain but they don’t read it on their own or they don’t even try.

Also, it is essential to develop curiosity and interest in learning.

KB: How do you think an egalitarian society can be achieved in today’s polarizing environment?

BD: One thing would be empowering the tribal communities so that they can talk and ask for their rights.

It is seen that in some communities the highly educated ones happily move to Mumbai, Delhi or Singapore but one should not forget their roots and come to help their own people to act as a role model. A proper kind of education will help definitely help.

There are so much of technological and other advantages that the urban students have access to but again slum urban is a different thing.

On the other hand, rural students don’t have access to electricity, no proper guidance and even their parents are not aware of how to educate them.

KB: Please tell us about the plans in your pipeline. Also, how do you intend on widening your reach and urge more people to take up similar projects?

BD: We will reach till class 10 or maybe 12. Now we have 5 government schools. We will reach 100 schools in 3 years. I think I will be in Majuli itself until we achieve good feedback.

My plan is to work here and to be with Ayang to help Majuli, the schools in Majuli.

We have started a fellowship for the youths of Assam. They will have a fellowship for two years and after that, they can go back to their native area and serve in schools.

Our aim is to develop the capacity of the people out here rather going for outside people.

 

Bipin Dhane

 

KB: Thanks a lot for giving us your valuable time. Please give your final thoughts and your word of advice to the common masses.

BD: This is for the parents: “Rethink the idea of education”. It is not about marks, nor about pass or fails but it is more than that.

For us, if anyone is interested in social work and any new kind of education we would like to help them and if people would like to help us we will grateful.

 

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