Twelve kilometres from Gujarat’s political capital, Gandhinagar, and 14 kilometres from the commercial capital, Ahmedabad — lies village Amiyapur. However, education beyond class VIII is a distant dream here. Most who leg it out to the nearest school (about 5 to 7 kilometres away) are either absent most of the time or fail several times.
Six-year-old Vidhya wants to be a doctor. Her family, however, grants her the day-dream. Like most children in Amiyapur, Vidhya’s education is a matter of time till she becomes a labourer. Her elder cousin brothers have already failed the class X exams. But they are set because their father has a paan shop.
Amiyapur has over 2,500 other backward class (OBC) Thakor families. The government school has provision up to class VIII. For those willing to pursue higher education, it entails a travel over five kilometres either to Koba, Sughad, Chandkheda or Motera. Most live Below Poverty Line (BPL) as contractual labourers. All live without hope of anything different either.
“Over 50 boys have failed to clear the class X exams. Most students at the local government school, even the ones in class VIII, cannot count till 10. Despite the proximity to Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, we are stand nowhere,” shared Vidhya’s uncle.
Her cousin, who failed to clear the 10th grade, is now enrolled at a Koba school. “We were a group of 10 boys and we all failed,” he states in a matter-of-fact way, adding: “No one in this village can pass class X. We were hopeful about an office job but seems life will take another route.”
For Manekji Thakor, councillor, Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation, the chorus is same. His son Vishnu failed the class X exams and now he runs a dairy in the village. Thakor’s granddaughter, Vanshika, goes to Koba for her primary education.
When asked why do the students have to go to Koba, he replies: “Most fail class VIII. We do not have the quorum to start class IX-X. Plus, options are open with Gandhinagar, Koba, Chandkheda and Sughad. It is no big deal.”
Realising that the future of their children lies in education, a letter has been sent to education minister Jitubhai Vaghani to build a government school on land allotted to make a temple. “This five-bigha land belongs to Jadeshwar Mahadev Trust and we were supposed to build a temple here. The land was lying vacant so I pay a rent of Rs 1,500 a month to house my cattle and horses here,” adds Thakor.
The lone teacher at the Amiyapur school holds a Ph.D Degree. “I went to a school in Koba on a bicycle and I know how tough it was to get primary education. I was persistent. We want our girls to complete their primary schooling,” is his input, while informing of his fight in moving Gandhinagar Sachivalaya for the school instead of the stable.
Meanwhile, life carries on for Vidhya’s family of seven. Her grandma works as a domestic. “Our boys can ride a cycle and go to Koba. What about the girls? There’s traffic on the main road and the education comes at a huge cost. However, a lack of good results discourages us from trying harder,” she laments the sad reality.