They can't read or write but are determined to ensure their children get proper education. A community of tribals in Rajasthan who toil hard to make just about Rs.70 a day have built a school for their children with their hard earned money. The tribals in the tiny Vasela Phali village in Rajasthan's Sirohi district, over 400 km from state capital Jaipur, came together and raised Rs.50,000 to build the primary school. Having grown up as illiterates, the around 300 villagers knew best the importance of education. All they wanted was to see their children get proper education and lead a better life than them. “It cost us Rs.50,000 to open the school. It's a huge amount of money for us. Most of us earn just about Rs.70-100 a day,” Bharon Ram, a villager, said. “We had approached the state authorities for help, but nobody came forward,” he said. The majority in the village is formed by the Garasia tribe, the third largest tribal group in Rajasthan. The villagers live near forests and are generally concentrated in Sirohi, Pali and Udaipur districts. There are no schools in the neighborhood and almost 95 percent of the population is illiterate, the villagers themselves admit. The Vasela Phali villagers named their school 'Sarasvati Vidya Mandir'. It has only one teacher as of now and is housed in a makeshift facility. But the most important thing is that it has become the home for learning for 64 children, making their parents proud. “I don't get salary every month because the villagers are very poor. But I am here for the love of it. I have enrolled 64 children aged between 5 and 14 years in the past one year,” said a beaming Bheraram Devasi, the teacher. Bheraram is the only villager who has completed college education. He said he had written many times to the state's education minister and the district collector for help but was yet to get a response. Children in the village are happy because they will now get at least primary education. The parents have bought them school uniforms and books. “My parents can't read a newspaper, so we never had one at home. But now, we get a newspaper every morning and I try to read it out to them before both leave for work,” said 12-year old Chandra Kumar. Block Education Officer Chaturbhuj Purohit admitted he had received letters from the villagers seeking financial help. “I have forwarded them to the higher authorities and am trying to ensure some help,” Purohit said. According to a child-tracking system (CTS) survey conducted by the state's education department in June and August last year, a staggering 1.2 million children in the age group of 6-14 are not attending schools in Rajasthan. “The high ratio of out-of-the-school children is due to non-availability of schools and teaching staff in the rural areas of Rajasthan,” said Rohit Singh, a child rights activist.
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