A child's dream to educate all

The boy interacts with children on Sundays and holidays

He is not even a teenager and many of his age will love to be playing with classmates. But his commitment to make every child educated will make even elders envious.

He enters a village and starts looking for children, who may be loitering or whiling away their time by playing “gilli-danda” (a game mainly played in villages by children) and tells them the purpose of his visit and minutes later almost every one follows him.

A “bal chaupal” (meeting of children) follows in which children discuss various issues that concern them and the most important among them is the issue of
education. Anand Krishna Mishra, studying fifth standard in a Lucknow school, has been doing so for the past two years.

Anand has so far visited 67 villages in different directions from Lucknow after he launched his campaign to spread the light of education to every nook and
corner of the country. His method is very simple. He visits village and exhorts
children, mainly from the poor families, who do not go to schools, to become part of his chaupal and discuss their problems and other issues. He also goes around the village and inquires if there are children not attending schools. “My target is poor children. Those who are from affluent families do attend schools but the poor do not. They while away their time playing or just loitering. Many of them are even engaged as child labour,” Anand says.

He asks children whether they go to schools and if not why. So far, 3,000
children have joined his bal chaupal, he adds. “Children during the chaupal speak freely and frankly about what they feel.

I tell them about the importance of education and motivate them to go to schools,” he told Deccan Herald.

The chaupal begins with the song “we shall overcome one day” and ends with the national anthem. In between, children also play some educational games and are given lessons in hygiene and on protecting environment. Anand tells them interesting and informative stories also.

Anand said that children from the villages mainly complain about lack of
education facilities there. “The quality of education is also poor. The children do not find the teaching methods entertaining and, therefore, do not enjoy their stay at schools,” he says.

Besides, there are no libraries also.

“In many villages, children have not even heard about the library. Computer education is almost non-existent,” he says.

During the chaupal, the issues relating the rights of children are also discussed. “I make children aware of their rights,” he says.

Anand’s father Anoop Mishra, who is with the Uttar Pradesh police, said that Anand had this desire rooted somewhere inside his heart. “He would often point out at children working at the roadside eateries on the highways and other places and ask me why they do not go to school like him,’’ Anoop said.

He launched his campaign after coming across a child during a visit to a religious place in Maharashtra. The child was very poor and Anand wanted to help him. The child, however, refused to accept any cash and instead requested Anand to buy him a geometry box, a few pens and pencils and some copy books. “The incident had a telling impact on Anand and he told me that he wanted to motivate children in rural areas to go to schools,” Anoop said.

He said that they usually visited villa­ges on Sundays and holidays. “We
select one village on each trip and spend the entire day there,” Anoop added.
Anand plans to write to the President of India, the prime minister and chief ministers and to the international voluntary organisations as well about the problems being encountered by children in villages in getting education and urge them to do something in this regard. “I want to see the entire country educated. We can solve a majority of our problems if children are educated,” Anand says. “I feel that children will themselves be inclined to attend school if they realise how they benefit from education,” he said.

He wants to organise anOlympic type sports event in villages. “Such an event will have our traditional sports which are popular in the rural areas. It can be orga­nised at block levels or even district levels,” he said.

Anand also has in mind a child parliament. “Children from different parts of the state or country will discuss their problems in such a parliament and adopt resolutions. These resolutions will then be sent to the President, prime minister and other important leaders’’, he said.

Anand’s mother Reena Devi, who too is employed with UP police, is all praise for her son’s efforts. “I am sure such small efforts will result in big things,” she said.
His parents lend full support in his efforts. Anand has been felicitated by
several voluntary and social organisations for his work for poor children in the rural areas.

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