The Diocese of Miao organised a musical dedicated to school dropouts. On average, two out of three youths go to school in India. Early dropout is widespread for both boys and girls. Forced to leave her studies to look after five siblings, Sonia is one of the dropouts.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – School is important and a lever for a better future, this according to Fr Felix Anthony, spokesman for the Catholic Church in north-eastern India.
Speaking to AsiaNews, the clergyman spoke about the latest initiative undertaken in his diocese, that of Miao, in Arunachal Pradesh.
Last Sunday, when the country celebrated National Youth Day, the Church brought together seventy school dropouts in order get them involved a musical dedicated to the life of the Patriarch Job, thus rekindling their desire to study.
Thanks to this event, which was held at the Light of the World School Hall in Miao, the kids rediscovered the pleasure of being together with their peers and realised the importance of education, Fr Anthony noted. In addition, half of them pledged to resume their studies in the new school year. For the priest, this is an important goal.
"We as a Church have a big role to play not just in terms of education,” but also in terms of “healthcare, preservation and promotion of local culture and dialects and for the overall welfare of the people,” he said.
The priest hopes that the initiative by the local bishop, Mgr George Pallipparambil, improves the dismal literacy rate in Arunachal Pradesh. On average, 66 per cent of young people attend school in Arunachal Pradesh.
The rate drops to almost 50 per cent in the three districts where the kids who staged the play come from, namely Tirap, Longding and Changlang, all on the border with Myanmar, "where development initiatives of the government do not reach".
School dropout “is a common phenomenon in this part of the country due to multiple reasons” and “for both boys and girls,” Fr Anthony explained. “Lack of local educational infrastructure requires students to walk for hours to reach a school. Lack of motivation for education as it does not guarantee any future, and financial difficulties are other major reasons. This leads to early marriage which is again a reason for dropping out.”
Sonia Pansa, from a village in Longding district, was one of the participants. “She dropped out after grade four because her parents work the land and they had five other small children. She stayed at home to take of her siblings. This musical reignited in her the desire for an education and she is one the first to enrol in formal education next academic year.”
The priest now hopes "for support from kind friends to support their education.” (A.C.F.)