The Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD) is focussed on restoration and development of heritage in rural areas. Rural areas are the back bone of Indian culture, which in turn, is recognised as one of the most vibrant cultures in the world.
A good proportion of India’s population lives in the rural areas; which means that the agriculture remains the prominent employer and remains the main source of livelihood and economic activity.
Admittedly, technology is rapidly changing our life styles, and one has to factor in the impact of this change on rural India as well.
Although, the windfalls of applying appropriate technology in the rural areas, especially in agriculture and allied fields, are heartening, total dependence on modernisation is not desirable and has to be avoided. This can be achieved right from the formative years of children, when they have just begun acquiring knowledge.
Culture, Education and Development
It is commonly believed, in development circles, that social and cultural development in rural India has been slow. But on the other side, it has the positive view, which non submission to modernisation has actually preserved our heritage, culture, identity and held us together in rural India.
The trust “ITRHD” is pursuing a culture-sensitive approach to development, and in the process felt the need to better understand cultural diversity and how it affects/ marks on the process of development. Many festivals, fairs, melas denoting the rich cultural heritage of the area fall in cyclic and sequential manner and boost the business of the area. The cyclic and cascading effect of the above process is the reason behind the development and prosperity of many a culture rich civilisation.
Artwork in Chacha Nehru Primary School
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan said, “ The aim of education is not the acquisition of information, although important, or acquisition of technical skills, though essential in modern society, but the development of that bent of mind, that attitude of reason, that spirit of democracy which will make us responsible citizens.”
Indeed, a sensitive and comprehensive education system would help to shape the younger generation into ethically correct and socially conscious youth /adults.
Culture and education cannot be separated but are complementary to each other and interface at various junctions. Both are interwoven in various ways. While culture impacts the quality and purpose of education, whereas education brings a sense of pride in our culture which is manifested in all stages of individual growth.
Primary education is where it all starts and the child begins to respect the importance of a value based life as she/he sees things and events happening, and the behaviour of others, around. The trust has adopted a unique model in imparting elementary/primary education so the youth is focussed on preservation of culture and heritage.
ITRHD has set up a primary school “Chacha Nehru Primary School” in village Hariharpur, a village famous for its classical music tradition which is 400 years old. Harihar pur is a village in District Azamgarh, up in North East India. The school which started in Feb 2013 has 64 registered and enrolled children in the age group of 4-6 years. Priority has been given to poor and marginalised girls.
The school is run by female teachers belonging to the same village, who have been formally trained as primary school teachers. The majority of them are daughters-in-law, so the resource remains in the village even after marriage!
The school offers mid day meal which is a very balanced, freshly cooked meal, where most of the provisions are donated by the villagers.
The happy atmosphere and nutritious food are the biggest attractions for the children and they are too keen to attend the school. The children are often present on the school premises much before the school start time!!
The school building (currently on hired premises) is being constructed, again on land donated by villagers, partly funded by British Council and mainly through corporate CSR funds and donations.
The school is a unique example of community, NGO and international agency participation in development through all its stages of coming up- designing, planning, construction, conceptualisation and implementation.