Tribals who score high on Mensa tests need help
Today when I opened my daily newspaper and saw this article titled ‘Measuring a tribal’s IQ,’ my heart skipped a beat. I was intrigued enough to read on. At first I wondered how anyone truly measure a tribal’s IQ. That is because I am not sure whether standard IQ tests do credit to the real intelligence of a human being. (article)
But the time I had finished reading the article by Nilanjan Sengupta which appeared in today’s Sunday Times of India, I could hardly contain my excitement. This is what the article said:
‘Since 1994, the year the Sevadham Trust Ashram Shala (school) in Maharashtra Maval Taluka was built, Narayan Desai, head of Mensa’s Pune chapter has been paying random visits and involving the students in different activities. A PhD in Restoration Ecology, he would ask students to help him identify certain plants and herbs in the jungles nearby and discovered that they possessed nature-based intelligence. In the year 2000 he had visited the school with a bundle of National Geographic back issues and asked the children to cut whatever they liked and make sense of it. Some children recognised the eco-systems, others arranged the pictures to build a food chain. That was when Desai decided to identify gifted children in the school.”
The results of the Mensa test
As the other tribal schools in the area were not keen to cooperate, Desai himself administered the test to the students and the results were intriguing.
“This test was no different from what urban candidates from various parts of the world take to enter the exclusive club of Mensans…and he was stunned. Out of 60 tribal children who took the test, as many as four girls between the ages of 12-13 cracked it. The next year, eight more cleared the test, boys between 10-13 this time.”
So, what is Mensa?
According to the Mensa website:
“The word “Mensa” means “table” in Latin. The name stands for a round-table society, where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational or social background are irrelevant.”
This is how Mensa was founded:
“Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr. Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, the only qualification for membership of which was a high IQ. The original aims were, as they are today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population, with the objective of enjoying each other’s company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities.
These are Mensa’s goals:
“Mensa has three stated purposes: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.”
The Wikipedia too has explained what Mensa is.
Surely passing a Mensa test means something?
Personally speaking I have never been a great believer in IQ tests, and nor do I feel comfortable with exclusive and ‘elite’ IQ clubs such as this. The very fact that Mensa admits those who score very high on certain ‘Approved’ IQ tests like SAT which have basically proven to be predictors of high grades in college (article), has made me a little wary of exclusive clubs such as these.
But the results of the Mensa tests on the tribal children have humbled me. There is simply no getting away from the amazing fact that these tribal children, totally cut off from an urban setting, have managed to clear these tests! It was heart warming to note that children who cleared the tests were identified as ‘gifted’ children.
What is heart-breaking however is that these girls who have been identified as ‘gifted’ are to be soon married off. No sponsors have come forward for the Mensans of Sevadhan to fund their higher studies, even though many of these children have high ambitions of becoming doctors, engineers and teachers. Unfortunately Desai has “failed to get the attention of various educational supervisory and funding bodies that do not understand why gifted children need help.”
Even though Desai is planning to administer the Mensa to 1000 more tribal children in Pune district, he is not sure what kind of sponsorship he will be able to get if he does succeed in his task. He hopes to get together at least a hundred gifted tribal children. He is keenly aware that there are hurdles other than just financial…motivating the children to study further for example…or persuading parents to let their girls study, not marry.
I pray that sponsors come forward to help these kids because to my mind finding intelligence is like discovering a pot of gold. The whole world needs to come together to nurture it. Intelligence is what is going to catapult the human race forward, no matter where it comes from.
Mensa India Pune Chapter
Tribal Mensa Nurturing Program 2007
Mensa India, Jnana Prabodhini Bhavan, 510 Sadashiv Peth, Pune 411030 India
Ph. No. 091-20-24477691, 24478095 Mobile: 98600 72580, 98226 26835
Email: mensapune (at) yahoo.com, nrd1675(at) hotmail.com
Related Reading: A little girl discovered by the Mensa program