Arti writes from India…
“130 rupees is the per pupil expenditure on Adult Education and in comparison for primary education it is 730 rupees,” Dr. Shah informed me. He continued to appraise me further by adding, “The Adult Education facilitator who is responsible for running the adult literacy courses at the village level is supposed to work for free; while primary school teachers get paid Rs.7000/month.” I knew, of course, that the spending on adult education, by the government (and also by NGOs) was disproportionate as compared to the spending on primary education, but I did not know that it was so blatant .
I suppose that adds to the list of reasons I have for believing that adult literacy is an area of development that is begging for attention. I acknowledge, however, that as I travel from Delhi, the country’s capital, to Lucknow (a state capital) to Bhadohi (a district center in Uttar Pradesh), I am struck evermore that even in the two years that I have been away, India has become so much more chaotic and that challenges abound at every step. The distance between the haves and the have nots continues to burgeon – as cycles and small cars struggle for space on tiny roads; jarring sights of beggars, mentally disabled, physically handicapped crowd the roads at crosswalks and little children performing like monkeys vie for attention at red lights.
The infrastructure has obviously improved in Delhi and Lucknow, but remains as run-down as before in Bhadohi and I imagine, the villages are untouched too. India is not an easy place to survive and I felt somewhat overwhelmed on my way to Bhadohi in the train, thinking, “How am I ever going to make a difference here – it is too much – it is coming apart at the seams. How will I be able to do a project that really has an impact. What was I thinking?”
Now that I am here in Bhadohi and working in the field, I know that I can find my way around very well – instinctively – and I know precisely where to put one foot and then the next – so that should show us the way forward…even if I feel a sense of the immensity of the context that surrounds me.