the Nawa Maskal School

Author: Giorgio Blanco

The Nawa Maskal (New Light) School currently counts nearly 800 students, divided in 18 primary and secondary classes and 4 kindergarten classes.

As the school is the main project of the Association, all the Jarom fundraising activities support it, both in its daily management, and also in bigger projects. Some of them are about the school area with its spaces and rooms, some others regard the lessons and the services the school offers to the students. The project grows constantly, but some goals have already been achieved: renewal of the school, the kindergarten, the guest house, the sports camp, the vegetable garden, the cowshed, the bakery, a clothes shop, the cheese factory and the nursery. Actually, we are building the gymnasium / auditorium and then we will realise the pre-college for the students who want to go to university and prepare for it after the 10th class. Many of these buildings have been built not only thanks to donations from Italy, but also thanks to some smaller projects of the school and of the community. For example, the main building of the school, the so-called “ecological monster” because of its aspect, really strong and completely disharmonic compared with the environment, bettered during the years thanks to the summer camps organized in Jareya, where volunteers decorated the structure to make it more comfortable for the students.

The kindergarten was built after, following the model and the colors of the houses of the villages where the students leave, the local building techniques, but with stronger materials and also following some security rules.

Most of the students at the Nawa Maskal School are tribals, as the school is placed close to many ādivāsī villages. Children between 3 and 6 years old attend the kindergarten and can continue the studies up to the 10th class. A difference with the public education system is that our students begin always from the 1st class independently from their age, because many times they don’t speak hindī. The big problem that those people face in public school is that normally the lessons are in hindī or English, but these children (not only the youngest, but also the other) speak only the language of their families, therefore only one of the many tribal languages. Among them the one spoken most frequently is muṇdārī (to see Jharkhand and muṇdā section). Therefore the study of muṇdārī is the first step toward a complete education for all those muṇdā people, even for those whose parents don’t speak hindī. The hindī language allows them to get in touch with the biggest communities while English is indispensable to obtain the most important jobs. Furthermore, Sanscrito and French are studied because they are requested for the national exams. Among them, Nawa Maskal School elected Sanscrito, because it is almost unknown among the ādivāsī. During Moral Science classes children study muṇdārī language, but also tradition, histories and local tales: classes learn the tribal dances and prepare for some festivities, such as Sarhul (the arrival of springtime), where also the parents participate, in order to keep traditions, usages and customs alive. 

The main goal of the teachers and of the school founders is to spread the message that moving to the bigger cities is not the only way for ādivāsī people to obtain a job or a social status. They try to teach them some techniques to process the resources already present in the villages area and to learn some new. For example, in the guest house has been created a cheese factory, where workers produce mozzarella, ricotta and provola, typical Italian cheeses. Then you can find these products as ingredients for the bakery recipes, which incomes support the activity of the school.

For the children who come from the villages of Jareya rural area, this school is a place not to get lost, a place to learn to be the main character of their own future. Being able to study in their own village and in their language means to have the chance to maintain their own identities and cultural contexts, as well as not being forced to leave for the big cities.