Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Mangsangleng Haokip is a student of Kamjong High School, a government school in one of the easternmost bordering district with Myanmar of India catering to more than 35 Villages. What best describes him is his unmatched ability to catch up the difficult concepts taught in class. There are many who are more talented than him yet he excels through hard work.
We once asked him a year back when we had just started our intervention in the school, “What do you want to achieve in your career? ” He replied, quietly and shyly, “I want to become an IAS officer. So that I can help poor students to get better education and better facilities of healthcare.”
Today he is in 9th Grade, much more matured, dreaming and daring to go big with the support of our Fellows and teachers. He is one of our spotlight students doing exceptionally well in our whole school transformation story.
However here is the reality of the region that we are working with:
The Golden Triangle in neighbouring Myanmar, Lao and Thailand is an international source of illicit drug, heroin, etc. Manipur, having a porous border of 398 km international border with Myanmar is one of the biggest routes for it.
There are about 40,000-50,000 drug addicts in Manipur of whom nearly half of them are Injection Drug Users (IDU) where 12% of drug addicts are in the age group till 15 years, 32% in the age group of 16-25years and 56% in the age group of 25-35 years.
Manipur was also on the top of HIV infection among states in the country with almost 23 percent of the total HIV infections.
The state has had around 90 insurgent groups. Since 1992 - 2014, the number of Deaths accounted stands at 1089 and injuries at 249 and the total number of surrendered cadres of insurgents accounted is 4142 and number of child soldier’s stand at 966 with overall percentage at 24.04.
With all the figures given above, yet there are many boys and girls like Mangsanleng who wants to have a better future and who want to give back to the community so that our communities will prosper and develop as there are many students falling in the trap of social evils prevailing in the region.
If we don’t act today, many generations of our children will be lost and the region will go from bad to worse.
Three years back, we started Recognize Rise and Empower Association to provide a small space for our women and children to dream and now we have intervened with women in more than 40 villages and around 2000 students in the region in the smallest way possible.
However, as we struggle to have the facilities to get basic learning competencies in the region, as we face the learning crisis with thousands of children reaching the phase of adulthood without even the most basic competencies and very low learning levels, we are working with the most immediate need currently:
One of the provisions in the RTE Act provides for the arrangement of Bridge Classes for children who are identified as below their grade learning levels. Thus, supporting Government schools in the realm of RTE is one of the major intervention areas of RREA.
To enable each school to have a school customised plan to support their group of children who are low in learning levels. The school customised plan can be made in consultation with the school teachers and parents to make it more effective.
Conducting Teachers Training on the Creative Teaching Methods/Alternative pedagogy to teach children who are poor at their learning levels. Traditional mode of teaching might not prove effective with these children, so teaching aspects need to be modified to make it more fun and playful. E.g. Using Sports, Games, Story Telling, Music or Arts could be used as alternative mediums with these children.
This investment comes with challenges which requires patience and persistence. We have started the fight against the challenges with the determination and strength of us moving forward.
Our message from the borders is that our students are watching, they are listening, and they understand and if it continues like this with lack of intent in every aspect then our future generations might never be able to forgive us for this injustice.
Will Haokip grow up to be an IAS or a drug addict? This is the question we are working towards day in and day out.
About the writer
Mathanmi Hungyo, founded Recognize, Rise and Empower Association (RREA) in 2017 with a vision to create an empowered environment for conflict affected individuals. After completing his Masters in Social Work from Delhi University, he declined opportunities from Ivy League colleges only to come back to Manipur and serve his community. He is now under Incubation with TFIx to create a sustainable and contextual teaching Fellowship model in his region.