My experience as a producer on Time For School, boils down in essence to feeling like I have adopted or should have adopted all the children in the film, most of all the young girl, now married woman and mother, that Neeraj from Rajasthan in India has become.
The vibrancy and beauty of children shines through every frame of Time for School. The kids are so full of life, optimism and intelligence and yet from the very first day it is so very clear how accidents of birth – where you are born, to whom, and when, as well as whether you are a boy or girl, determine virtually everything. At first that is a reason for some despair. Why don’t they have all the opportunities that our children in the middle or upper middle class of the United States have? Over time, with a bit of wisdom, that cultural superiority is erased as we realize the richness of each child’s culture, and the fact that their world is like none other, and that for better or worse we are all made more complete by understanding it.
Neeraj in particular has taught me that lesson. Although there are many aspects of the patriarchal society she comes from that I find upsetting, her world is so vibrant, her mother and sisters so strong, so in charge, her family so tightly knit and successful that even though she is still semi-literate, I am certain that her future and that of her children is bright. I look forward to hearing more about her in the coming years as well as the other children in the film, because even though the series is over, their lives have truly just begun.
Click here to read more field notes from the producers.