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They came, saw and conquered the minds

Areekode  |  06-Oct-2019

“The God has given everything to Kerala - the greenery, hills and mountains, waterfalls, rivers, spices and cash crops - and nothing is left for Rajasthan, says Nisha, a former student of Manthan Sikshak Sansthan, Rajasthan. Nisha is one among the fourteen SMILE interns who are touring in Kerala as part of the Sullamussalam-Manthan Integrated Learning Exchange (SMILE) Programme.

Ten girl students and three staff from Manthan Sikshak Sansthan, an alternative education initiative in Kotri village of remote Rajasthan is visiting Sullamussalam Science College, Areekode, as part of the SMILE 2019 between 29 September to 6 October 2019.

SMILE is a cultural exchange initiative of Sullamussalam Science College and Manthan, an NGO which works on empowering marginalized and excluded communities in 60 villages of Ajmer and Nagaur districts of Rajasthan.

“The amount of efforts the state of Kerala investing on elementary education is a testimony to the progress you have made in the education sector,” says Nanda Lal, a teaching staff with Manthan School, after visiting a Montessori School in Areekode.

The interns from Manthan, who are pursuing their high school studies, spent one-week time at the campus interacting with the campus community and experiencing the tradition, culture and uniqueness of our state. They visited various departments and laboratories, nearby schools and other educational institutions and interacted with the staff and students to experience the educational system in the state.

Most of the things they saw and experienced in Kerala – the waterfalls, river, greenery, the food, etc - was an eye-opener for them. When asked what did they like the most in Kerala, all the students had only one answer, “the waterfall”.

Like many of her counterparts, Rekha, who is also the Prime Minister of the Manthan’s Student Parliament don’t feel like going back to Rajasthan. “I just want to go Rajasthan once to see my parents and would like to come back and continue my studies here,” says a beaming Rekha.

“While interacting with students in this campus, I came to know that the cast system was also prevalent in Kerala, and the educational developments here resulted in bringing a drastic change. We also wanted to continue our studies and fight against the caste discrimination in our society,” says Komal, another student from Manthan.


Designed as a national cultural exchange programme, the SMILE project was launched last year and 11 students and two staff from Sullamussalam Science College spent 10 days in Rajasthan villages exploring their culture and observing socio-economic conditions there.