Socially Useful Productive Work
SUPW or Socially Useful Productive Work is purposeful and meaningful work resulting in either goods or services which are useful to the community. It was Mahatma Gandhi who, for the first time, insisted that manual and productive work should find place not only in the school curriculum, but education itself should be centred on it.
Indeed, work experience is an integral part of our curriculum. So from our school hours we devote quite some time to productive, creative and recreational activities. The Adult Literacy Syndrome was gaining momentum at our school and I, with four other classmates, were provided the opportunity to form a group and undertake the responsibility of removing the dark veil of ignorance and literacy shrouding a small village nearby.
It was only a few miles from our school. ‘Knowledge is a bliss while ignorance is a folly’. Keeping this in mind, we were all too eager to dispel the darkness with the torch of knowledge. The first day, with thumping hearts, the five of us set out for our destined project. Although we had chalked out a plan which we hoped was the right way to proceed, we were quite worried as to how to best tackle those illiterate adults and teach them the three R s.
This thought was foremost in our minds. The consultation with the Panchayat and the preparation of the designated classroom had already been done by our school authority. As we reached the scheduled place, we found that some of the adults had already gathered in the make-shift room, ready and waiting for us. Yet the first meeting proved to be a great failure.
They glimpsed at us with an air of rejection and indifference. They were absolutely reluctant to start their first lesson and hear anything that we said. There was too much commotion and we just could not make them settle down. What were we to do? Perhaps they did not expect us to be so young.
With much disappointment we had to return soon as we were unable to get through to them. We realised that it was a Herculean task, but we were determined not to give up our pursuit. With intensified zeal we went back the next day. We tried various means to bring them out of their shells.
Though they were sullen and unresponsive at first, we gradually started to break down the tacit wall between us. An air of triumph filled our hearts. We were able to interact with them and teach them something in a non- formal way. We returned home with the joy of accomplishment.
By and by they realised that somehow they were being benefitted. There was no more hostility and they began to regard us as their friends. They revealed their interest and enthusiasm in learning what was being taught. This, in turn, made us increase our efforts and brought out the best in us. Their hard work, sincerity and eagerness were our source of inspiration.
It made us forget our fatigue and enjoy the fruits of our labour. We succeeded in making them turn their back on fingerprint signing and take up their pens in with full confidence. When, eventually, our project got over, the parting saddened all of us. In retrospect, we were overjoyed to realise that the moments spent there were to be treasured forever.
We were proud to be the torchbearers of learning that brought literacy to the village. It instilled in us values like cooperation, tolerance, awareness of social problems and inculcated in us a positive attitude and the urge to be a useful member of the society.