From the Cycle Shop To School

From the Cycle Shop To School

  • Education
  • By Sonali Keshari & Binod Sinha
  • 01 Aug, 2022

According to UNESCO report for the year 2020, 0.32 billion students across the county were affected due to school closure due to the pandemic. Previous studies show that short term disruption in schooling leads to increase in permanent drop out among children. The impact of this is more among rural children and children living in lower economic strata especially Dalit, Adivasis, Muslim and girls. This leads to rise in inequality in the society where in long term these children remains far away from education and better income opportunities.

Sachin could well have been one such statistics.

Instead, he is now a student of Manna Lal Inter College, Fatehpur (Government College) in class 6th. He loves to go to school daily. He says, “Along with my studies, I enjoy playing with my new friends in school. I had given up my dream of getting education. But now that I am in school, my dreams are alive again. I want to become a police officer.”

Twelve year old Sachin was out of school till a few months back. He lives with his parents, three sisters and one brother in Korai village in Telyani block of Fatehpur district. During door-to-door mobilisation, Priya, our community mobiliser, met him in December 2021.

Priya asked Sachin to come to the mohalla/bridge class which she ran in Korai. Initially he didn’t came in the class. He was quite hesitant and he only watched them attend the class and see them draw, paint and participate in recreational activities from afar. Whenever, Priya asked Sachin to join the Mohalla class for study, he would run away with some excuse or the other. He finally gave in and attended two-three classes when children were engaged with some painting, drawing or games during celebration of important days.

The other children informed Priya that Sachin wasn’t going to school instead was involved in some sort of income generating activity. In a way, he was a child labour. Before the pandemic, he was in class five but after the pandemic once the schools started to reopen he didn’t go back to school.

It turned out that Sachin was working with his father in their cycle repair shop. Earlier too he used to help his father but due to school closure he started working full time at the shop. Priya counselled both Sachin and his father, almost daily. The father would always refuse to send him to school. Priya started giving practical examples of other children to Sachin to encourage him to join the Mohalla classes.

One day he opened up and said, “How will I study? My father does not have sufficient money. I cannot continue my studies and this is the very reason that my elder brother too had to leave his studies”. He clearly wanted to study.

Priya changed her strategy. Instead of the father, she approached the mother. She went to his home and discussed the issue with his mother and started convincing her about his future. But the mother too had the same response—“no money and that discontinuation of education was no new matter in their family.”

Priya did not give up. She once again returned to the shop, explained the science in cycle and cycle repair, and just by the way explained how important education will be for Sachin. One day while repairing puncture of a cycle, his father told Sachin, “If you put too much pressure in tyre, it will burst as there will be more pressure inside”. Priya took the opportunity and jumped in. “It’s Science. In school, like this he will learn many more things  in science for instance the correct temperature to melt iron. If you want your child to get such knowledge, you should send him to school.”

This time his father smiled and asked Sachin if he wanted to go to school. He said, yes. And the next day, Sachin’s father enrolled him in school. Next day, Sachin was thrilled to go to school. He doesn’t have t o work at the shop any more. He only has to read, write and play.

Sachin’s parents are unlettered and so he is a first generation learner. Now he attends school daily and helps his father when he gets the time. Priya used to visit his house to follow up to ensure that he hasn’t dropped out again and also if he is getting along ok at school.

Last year, Oxfam India mapped out of school children in 104 panchayats of six districts; 824 children were identified. Among identified children, 5% children were formal child labour. Oxfam India is running Mohalla/bridge classes to bridge learning gap among children and mainstreaming them in nearby government schools. In these classes 894 children who were at the risk of getting drop out or out of school have been enrolled. Oxfam India trying to fight inequality by working on accessing public services like education and health among marginalised section of children.

📢Oxfam India is now on Telegram. Click here to join our Telegram channel and stay tuned to the latest updates and insights on social and development issues. 


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