The daughters planting paddy have the ambition to grow but not a choice of course.
Poverty has interrupted the education of 15 bright, backward-class girls of this village who excelled in the class-12 examinations and now work in fields.
Seeing no scope of income after traditional courses they can afford, they seek professional training, which is expensive. Failing to secure bank loan for the general nurse and midwife (GNM) course, Mandeep Kaur joined her dad in transplanting paddy. "I want my daughter to study further," said her father, Gurtej Singh Sewewalaia, "but I have little income to get her the course of her choice."
The government should sponsor the education of bright and motivated girls, said Gurtej Singh. "Last year, my daughter won a scholarship of Rs 165 a year for doing well among the Scheduled Caste students," he said. "She deserves support."
Pawandeep Kaur, daughter of agricultural labourer Majeet Singh, wants to study law, an ambition too tall against the small resources of his father, a daily-wage earner. Arshdeep Kaur, only child of farmer parents, is keen on computer education, but private colleges that dominate the field have total fee running into lakhs of rupees.
Sarbjeet Kaur and Sukhpreet Kaur entered the paddy field after three years of dressmaking course. "We completed the course with great difficultly. We didn't have the resources," said Sarbjeet Kaur. "The government should support girls' education," said Sukhpreet Kaur. "It will build a healthy society."
Virpal Kaur, in a group of three girls working in the fields, is daughter of a soldier in the army who died of cancer two years ago. "I am eager to join the army," she said. "I want to serve my country."
Villager Jagdish Singh has four daughters and only 1.5 acres of farm to support the family. "I secure land on lease, and yet the income is too modest to live on," he said. "It's bread before my daughters' ambition." His daughter, Jaspal Kaur, gave up studies after class 12.
Jaspal Kaur has one year of stitching and dress-design training and a dream of entering the Bachelor of Science course in the subject. "I cannot afford the course cost," she said. "A BA (Bachelor of Arts) programme this year, though futile, it is the cheapest option." Her elder sister, Virpal, who is into a computer course, pays her fee by stitching the clothes of villagers.
Aggressive promotion of private professional courses is just a trap, says Parminder Singh Taggar, assistant professor in the University College of Jaitu. "Private colleges have commercial interests, and they hype professional courses to exploit students for profit," he adds. "Let students not be misled, there's a good scope of income even after inexpensive and traditional courses."