The barter system had been a way of existing in the ancient world when there was no introduction of the standard money in certain civilisations. It was a way of paying for services and products by offering something that belonged to the buyer. Interestingly, some villages in India are back on the same track during the COVID outbreak which mandated closure of their kids’ schools and their businesses.
As online classes could not pan out much in these areas, majorly due to the bad network connectivity, the government started classes that aired on television in the initial stage of the lockdown. But this idea, too, couldn’t survive as not all families own TVs in rural India.
This ultimately gave rise to makeshift classes organised by the village teachers, wherein the classes are now conducted in the open fields with masks on.
Here, these teachers don’t get paid money but vegetables, grains and other agriculture products that the parents of these students grow in their fields and can happily afford as the fees. Talking about this barter system, Shivjyoti Kumar, a farmer from Nayagaon in Bihar, tells Indian Express, “Wheat is our cash, several farmers give wheat as tuition fee on most occasions, the teacher charges Rs 1,000 per month for teaching for an hour daily.”
These poor farmers aka parents don’t mind sharing their produce as long as their kids are getting educated while the local schools are closed.
Most of these children are first-generation learners, which means it is difficult for them to study by themselves even if they could afford to take online classes. “Self-study does not work beyond a point. We are happy that our parents are so conscious about our education,” Shivjyoti’s daughter, Nishu, says.
However , the question here remains - for how long will the teachers be willing to teach once the farmers run out of the commodities to barter for their child’s education. Sadly, well-deserved education is a far fetched dream for a lot of people in our country due to the economic and digital divide.
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