A Small yet Great Victory over the Pandemic

Sourav Das, India

Sourav Das, India

Sourav Das, born in 1987, calls his camera an instrument of learning. He refers to famous Henri Cartier-Bresson when he says: With one eye you look at the world, with the other into yourself. In 2011 Das obtained a Master of Arts, then focused on photography. He sees himself as a street photographer, he wants to document social change in his society. He trusts photography to be as expressive as a novella, a song or a painting.

Closed classrooms, no chance of online teaching as mobiles and laptops are mostly too expensive or teachers were unprepared: For millions of girls and boys covid meant no schooling of any kind for months. And for countless other children this is still, or again, true. Already it has become sadly clear: covid has created an educational emergency across the world, which goes beyond the loss of learning the times table. In many poorer countries closing the schools also means that children forego their only certain meal of the day.

But there were and still are wonderful exceptions! These are initiatives like that of Indian teacher Deepnarayan Nayak, who just moved the school in his village outdoors. He turned the walls of the houses into boards. He painted the precautions against infection on the walls, he teaches the children how to use masks and makes them attend school outdoors in safe distance to each other, even the subject of biology, including the look through a microscope.

Indian photographer Sourav Das has captured everyday scenes of this unusually creative and loveable village school. He has created a small monument to this peaceful action. It realizes, on the lowest conceivable level, one of the 54 articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: the right of access to education. We catch a glimpse of how incredibly important this is when we look at the dire consequences of closed schools in many countries of the global South: Child labour and early marriages are again on the increase.

We receive the work of Sourav Das as a gift to us all, as unexpected as it is heart-warming! And as a really important contribution to a momentous topic. A work that will last. And will continue to shine a light out of times of darkness. (Text by Peter-Matthias Gaede) (Text by Peter-Matthias Gaede)

Discover more: Shortlist 2021, Winners 2021