> Development > Rural Development  
Nayanjyoti Bhuyan
Date of Publish: 2016-03-02

Where there is a will…

How one village changed the future of thousands

Henoukhong is just an hour’s drive from Manipur’s Capital Imphal but somewhere in the education development plan of the State, this village was completely ignored. Mind you, Henoukhong is not remote because the Asian Highway heading to Moreh on the Manipur-Myanmar border passes through here and the village is close to the district headquarters of Chandel.

Henoukhong’s villagers gave up on Government administrators and policymakers

  and were quite resigned to their fate of being illiterates.

“All we knew was farming, looking after livestock and running tiny businesses. There was no scope for our children’s future,” says Dale Haokip, a 70-year- old farmer of Hainoukhong.  

In a State fairly good on the literacy index, Hainoukhong stood out. Successive governments ignored their demands for a school. Lack of formal education led to various problems — unemployment, a dysfunctional society, petty crime, etc.

Then luck smiled on Hainoukhong in 2011. 

Reach-M, which had been working in the area for about two decades, saw both a challenge and an opportunity here. It decided to take the issue of a school to the community itself. It held a series of formal and informal meetings with village elders and the idea of a school was born. 

Reach-M took a detailed proposal to ActionAid, Guwahati, which felt this to be an excellent opportunity to give access to education to a village that had slipped out of the development map.  

“The community was so enthusiastic that after our first meeting, they took it upon themselves to organise further meetings to discuss the starting of a school. By the time we visited them again, they had identified the community land and even put aside construction material,” says Thongpao Haokip of Reach-M.

The building was constructed in no time and a school management committee was set up. Education volunteers were engaged by Reach-M and within a matter of months, years of deprivation ended.

By the end of 2012, the school building had sufficient classrooms and volunteers/ teachers for classes up to lll.

This woke up a Government which had been in slumber all his while. Officials of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) visited the village, interacted with the community and realised what a success story it was. All because of the sheer will of a village that wanted a better future for its children.

in 2013, SSA decided to adopt this school under its schemes and provided grants and facilities. In addition, it made detailed plans to expand educational infrastructure in such areas in close collaboration with the community. It succeeded in convincing the Manipur Government of developing the area as an educational hub for the long term.

The incredible initiative taken at Heinoukhong helped not just one village but the whole region. 

  Nayanjyoti Bhuyan      

 ( Nayanjyoti Bhuyan is an independent journalist based in Guwahati. His focus area is rural reporting, specially, on the rural poor and marginalized sections of the society. )

 

 

 

 

 

 

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