Tree of Knowledge

A visual diary of a madrasa in Pakur, Jharkhand, challenges some stereotypes.

It was curiosity that led Ashraf Hussain and Ajfarul Sheikh to turn their steps towards their local madrasa, a place that they would pass by often, but had no occasion to enter.

“We had many notions about the institution. If you google the word madrasa, certain kinds of images pop up. There is a kind of mystery and fear around these. Regular schools or colleges find very different kinds of representations, which are more or less positive. Why is it that certain types of images of madrasas are etched in our minds?”

Rather than relying on hearsay or their own stereotypes, the two decided to spend some time in the local madrasa. Tree of Knowledge is a visual diary that emerged from observing, conversing, shooting and writing amidst madrasa students and teachers. “We didn’t want to only interview people. There is a lot of difference between merely verbalising something and showing the details of it. Everyone says the right things always, but to see closely, carefully for oneself, that is really important.”

Ashraf Hussain and Ajfarul Sheikh are a part of The Third Eye’s Learning Lab’s first cohort of Digital Educators. They work with FACE, an organisation in Pakur (Jharkhand) that works on gender and education.

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