Jomir Ali of Jhinaigati, Sherpur
Jomir Ali has got only enough land for 2-3 month's subsistence. So he scratches a living by share-cropping the land of richer farmers. He has two daughters and two sons. It's time for the girls to be married. The boys are not old enough yet. Like their sisters they are illiterate as they have had to spend their childhood helping their parents to make ends meet and had no time for schooling.
Much of his meagre resources and efforts used to go to waste. He tried to get better crops by treating the soil, but he put too little or too much fertiliser on, or put it on either too soon or too late, and often the shop-keeper supplied him with wrong or adulterated chemicals and he couldn’t tell the difference.
But last year Jomir Ali attended Nijera Shikhi classes and taught himself to read and write - in fact to write and read, as writing comes first in self-education as it does in the Bengali word for education, lekhapora. Now he can read and understand everything and take the right decisions. He reads labels, leaflets, and agricultural books, keeps an account of everything in a note-book and works out correct quantities. He has learned to budget his spending
Now Jomir is literate and has proved that schools and teachers are not necessary, he is determined to help his wife and his children and their friends, to teach themselves to write and read the Nijera Shikhi way, in their spare time. The little book they learn by is entitled Ja Chai, or What We Need. It is just the night name!