Back To School

Back To School

First with the sustained efforts of the Mohalla Classes and later with a dogged enrolment drive, we have managed to enrol 448 Out Of School children in schools in 8 districts in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand—Raebareli, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Gumla and Lohardaga.

Someshwar Bajpai of Oxfam India says, “Out of School Children is a burning issue for the government in Uttar Pradesh in spite of a well-structured mechanism in basic education and its grassroots support with PRIs within the community.” In the Raebareli cluster alone—Raebareli, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur—271 children were identified as out of school in 20 villages in two blocks in each district and they all belonged to the OBC, dalit and the minority communities i.e. Muslims. More girls were found to be out of school.

The shift to digital education, left a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. Unable to access either smart phones, internet or electricity children simply dropped out of school. Since most of them are first generation school goers, they did not have the option of studying at home. Children, therefore, ended up either working in potato farms and in shops to earn money, or while away their time, or were left to take care of domestic chores and younger siblings.

Read More: Mohalla Classes 2.0

Due to the efforts of our team, community mobilisers and the volunteers, we ran 51 Mohalla Classes in 7 districts. These classes were run with the support of PRIs and school teachers and the community members who supported with spaces to hold classes, with TLMs, with books, and with boards, mats, etc. Volunteers including young college students and women from the village have been holding the fort on the days the community mobiliser aren’t able to reach the village.

Read More: Village Backs Mohalla Classes

The School Chalo Abhiyan (स्कूल चलो अभियान) by the Uttar Pradesh government is running well, giving an impetus to the much-needed enrolment of children in schools. While Mohalla Classes were essential to ensure children didn’t drop out of schools (and they still need to run to ensure children are able to catch up in the class), being a part of formal education system is very important for children especially for those belonging to the most marginalised communities.

Read More: A School Away From School 

In order to push the enrolment drive, once again our community mobilisers and volunteers have been working relentlessly to bring children back to school. These include holding rallies through villages to convince parents and children to get back to school, having one on one meetings with parents to convince them, getting teachers to talk to the communities, holding admission drives in schools, and finally getting the children to schools to enrol.

In fact, in Gumla, a football match was organised by the school and the community members to encourage children attending Mohalla Classes, already enrolled children and other out of school children to attend school!

The enrolment drive has the concerted efforts of primary school teachers, BEOs, PRIs and Community Mobilisers. As a first step, details of children were shared with the concerned authorities. One of the major challenges faced during the admission process was the availability of documents. Most of the children had no Aadhaar card, birth certificate, or Transfer Certificates from previous institutions. “Though the RTE Act 2009 and the UP States Rules 2011 does give some relaxations, attitudes of certain officials made it very difficult to move forward initially. Now things are much more smoother,” adds Bajpai.

Though the children are being admitted in schools, the Mohalla Classes continue to run after school. In fact, we were told during our last visit that this is something that children looked forward to.

Watch: Discrimination-Free Education | Mohalla Classes in Uttar Pradesh

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