Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya
Life in Harvesting Season
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Close to 70% of India's population resides in villages and most of them depend on agriculture (or affiliated activities) for a living. Despite massive resource allocation by the Indian government , quality education still eludes a large chunk of the population in rural areas.

Children in rural areas face some unique problems when it comes to education; absenteeism and unavailability of teachers being some of them. Schooling is not a priority as education is perceived to be a long term investment with uncertain payback. Helping parents with daily chores or on fields, especially during harvest/sowing seasons, takes priority over going to school every day.

The pictures here are a big contrast to oversized farming equipment usually seen in developed countries. The farming activity in India is labor intensive. Therefore, in order to ensure that the crops are not lost to inclement weather, whole family has to get involved to finish harvesting in a timely manner. The families have hardly any reserves and losing the annual crop may threaten the survival of the family.

It may be pertinent to briefly explain the reason for scant usage of mechanized farming equipment in most of the villages. At the time India became independent, most of the land was held by a small number of powerful landlords. The government passed a series of legislations with an aim to redistribute the land equitably among the landless and the near landless population. This led to formation of small sized farms (ranging from 10 acres to 54 acres) depending on land quality which in turn made use of mechanized farming methods cost ineffective.

It is possible to draw a parallel with similar practices elsewhere in the world. In Kenny Lakes region of Alaska, stores and schools shut down during fishing season and during moose hunting season in Fairbanks. This allows the families to participate in food-gathering activities. However there is a difference in scenarios as participation of children is optional and since all the schools are shut, they are not compromising on their education.

The move to urban areas for better quality of life is adversely affecting the availability of teachers in the villages. China has its residency permit called Hukou which is required to live in a city - it allows the migrants to register in local schools or qualify for local medical programs. No such controls exist in India.

For further treatise on this topic please see - Harvesting Season