It is not easy for a common person to have access to the State’s Legislative Assembly. The VIPs and high-level security make it difficult to gain entry. However, much to their delight, students from the ZP School in Nivli, Latur district, had the chance to visit in August 2016, while the Assembly was in session. For most of these students, the trip was like a dream come true.
School Principal Dilip Jadhav recalls, “While teaching the students Civics, we had often felt that if they could actually visit the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, and observe the work done there, the subject would come alive for them. It would be far easier for them to understand its importance. And so we decided to try and give our students this experience. We held meetings, contacted our acquaintances in Mumbai, and spoke to the State’s Principal Secretary. Finally, one day, the Principal Secretary gave us a letter granting us the requisite permission.”
On the appointed day, the students left Nivle early in the morning. It was the first time that students from a ZP school in the area were going on such a trip, and they were interviewed, along with their teachers, by a team from News 18 Lokmat, a regional TV channel. The students answered the questions with confidence.
The group reached Belapur, on the outskirts of Mumbai, at around 11.30 that night, where they stayed at the BT Randive Library. The students ate the food they had brought with them, and went off to bed, while their teachers stayed up planning the next day’s tour.
Next day was the big day. The students were up early, all dressed in their school uniforms. Filled with anticipation, they climbed into the hired bus that would take them to the Legislative Assembly. On the way, their teachers surprised them with a sumptuous meal at one of Mumbai’s 5-star hotels. For most students, visiting such a grand place was more exciting than the food itself.
Back in the bus, they drove straight to the Legislative Assembly complex situated at the other end of the city. There they had to undergo security checks, where their teachers surrendered their mobile phones, pens, and even purses. Finally, the students entered the premises and proceeded to hall 411 – the viewers’ gallery. From here they could watch the proceedings as they took place in the assembly hall below. The teachers sat among them so as to be able to answer any questions the students might have, as they watched. The students were made to understand the difference between the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly, the responsibilities of the elected representatives, and so on.
The students saw serving Ministers like Pankaja Munde, and Vinod Tawde, as well as former Chief Ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Narayan Rane. They were thrilled to see these well-known personalities, whom they had seen only on TV.
After this session, the students met Amit Deshmukh, the MLA from their own Latur district. He spent some time with them, asked about their journey and their plans for the next couple of days on their tour of Mumbai, and posed for a photo with the group. They also met some other MLAs, who stopped by to ask about the group of children and who wished them luck.
The next stop was to meet OSD (Officer on Special Duty) Prachi Sathe ‘Madam’ who gifted the students some books. They then visited Mr Nand Kumar, Principal Secretary, School Education. They also met Govind Nandede, the then Director of MSCERT (Maharashtra State Council for Educational Research and Training), who welcomed the students. Nandede ‘Sir’ asked them all about their trip so far. The students were in Secretary Nand Kumar’s cabin for more than an hour, as he chatted with them. He asked them about their school, studies, about their families, whether it was their first trip to Mumbai, the mid-day meals in school, and so on. When he asked if they were allowed to play in school, one student, Pranjali Jadhav, said, “It is only in school that we are allowed to play. At home, our parents get annoyed and scold us if we play and make noise.”
Pranjali used the word “kavtat”, a word from her dialect, for “scold”. Nandede ‘Sir’ explained the meaning to the others and encouraged her to keep using words from her mother tongue. Nand Kumar ‘Sir’ explained to the students how spoken language changes as it spreads over geographical distances. He advised the students not to forget their dialects even as they learned the grammatically correct, formal language in school. He gave the students tea and snacks and suggested to their teachers that the group visit the beach – giving them Rs 1,000/- to spend during their trip. Nandede ‘Sir’ also presented some money to the students.
The teachers then took the students to the Gateway of India next to the Taj Mahal Hotel, where the group took several pictures. They were reminded of the horrifying terrorist attack on Mumbai as they looked up at the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Next was Mumbai’s equally famous Juhu Beach. Although tired from the long day, the students were thrilled! They ran about, taking in the food stalls, balloon sellers and, most importantly, the sea! Both teachers and students went to the water’s edge and splashed about in the shallow waves for a long time. Most of these children had never seen the sea before and were highly excited. After tearing themselves away from the water, they gorged themselves at the food stalls, eating panipuri, bhelpuri, pav-bhaji, ice candies. It was a fitting end to an eventful day.
The next day they traveled to Lonavla, a hill station near Mumbai. The students enjoyed the waterfall, lush greenery, and tourist spots like Tiger Hill. The teachers, too, had a good time and joined the students in singing songs. After lunch at a hotel, the students returned to Nevli late in the night.
The trip to Mumbai was an unforgettable experience for these students from a ZP school in a small village. Some now dream of becoming a Minister or MLA, while others want to become officers like Nand Kumar. The experience left a deep impact, and all of them wrote about it. The BEO (Block Education Office) ‘Madam’ Trupti Andhare was so impressed with their essays that she had them published as a book, titled ‘From Nevli to Mumbai.
Blog: Snehal Bansode-Sheludkar, Special correspondent, samata.shiksha
Editing and Translation: samata.shiksha team