Mohalla Classes 2.0

Mohalla Classes 2.0

“When I visited Haswa Bazaar, I realised that no child went to school. When I asked the reason, one child behaved rudely and shouted at me and asked me to go back,” says Anita Verma, a community mobiliser from Fatehpur. This was in November 2021. After asking around, the child’s parent’s and their neighbours’ all came up with different arguments. They ranged from ‘not feeling safe leaving the hamlet’ to ‘those in the other hamlet steal for a living’. This and other explanations for not sending their children to school strengthened Anita’s resolve to start mohalla classes. There was lack of education and the children, due to two years of pandemic and lockdown,  had lost valuable time. “I realised education was the appropriate tool to empower the community,” points out Anita.

With the help of volunteers, Oxfam India did an exercise to track out of school children from intervention area. Oxfam India team identified 795 out of school children who were out of school for more than 45 days for some reason or the other. Some of them had never attended schools. In such a scenario, it is difficult to enrol children in school and retain them in the enrolled classes where they are unable to understand what is being taught in the class. Moreover, academic session is on the verge of completion.

To ensure that children are prepared for the next session, Oxfam India has restarted its mohalla classes. They can attend class in their own hamlets and attending in smaller numbers and in the open will ensure that they are able to safeguard themselves from COVID-19 as well.

The mohalla classes were also held in 2020 soon after the lockdowns were announced. In the first year of the pandemic, Oxfam India trained nearly 120 volunteers in Raebareli and Banda to take mohalla classes for children. So this time around, too, either volunteers from the community or Oxfam India’s community mobilisers will take classes for two hours everyday. The classes are made interactive with lots of non-scholastic activities at first to capture the attention of children and then eventually engage them with scholastic work.

So Anita first spoke to the parents and grandparents to persuade them to send their children to school. “I even slipped in a discussion on the Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND), the primary health centre and other services available. I convinced them that if they had education they had better chances to access these facilities.” Anita started the classes in Haswa Bazaar with 15 children out of which nine were girls.

There were all kinds of children. One child Bhanu (changed name), who is eight years old, instead of attending school was helping out his father make and sell samosas to make ends meet. “There was hardly any hygiene and cleanliness. I am orienting them on the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation,” Anita says. Barring one, no one was able to even hold a pencil in their hands or have basic stationery. A few weeks down the line, and thanks to the community mobiliser buying them copies and pencils, the kids are able to write alphabets, letters and numbers.

On 1 January, these very children attending the mohalla classes planted 100 trees to usher the new year and took the oath to attend classes and get educated. The children were also taken to schools for enrolment. While the children couldn’t be admitted due to the academic year almost coming to an end, the teachers promised to enrol the children in the new session. For teachers in schools, it is evident that mohalla classes like these are of huge help.

In fact, in order to encourage the children the teachers organised an activity—Buri Adato ko Tata ByeBye—for children to pledge to not repeat bad habits. Children are eager for mohalla classes. “No child wants to sit in the back row. They wait for me eagerly,” Anita says, happy about the change she has been able to bring about. With the help of a local organisation, she arranged some books and games for the children.

A few 100 km away is Pratapgarh. Shiv Kumar, another community mobiliser from Oxfam India started the mohalla classes in Pure Seva Rai village on 1 January. The classes inaugurated by the Block Development Coordinator and Gram Pradhan have 17 children enrolled in them. This was done after a quick survey of all out of school children in the village and discussions with parents who suggested support classes for at least an hour every day. Gram Pradhan Lalji Patel offered to provide honorarium to volunteers who agreed to take daily classes for children for two hours.

Sadhna Saroj, the only girl (and one out of two) in the village to have completed class 12, agreed to take classes. Shiv trained Sadhna for the mohalla classes and linked her with school teacher and Gram Pradhan for any support.

Since March 2020 with the announcement of countrywide lockdown schools have mostly been closed. Private schools started organising online classes for children but the real brunt of this was borne by children from weaker and marginalised sections who were enrolled in government schools. During that period, Oxfam India had started Mohalla classes by mobilising volunteers. Schools opened in the month of September 2021 after second wave of Covid but have again shut down due to the Omicron variant.

In December 2021, Oxfam India conducted an intensive exercise of tracking of out of school children. We found that 795 children, including 365 girls and 430 boys, were out of school in 120 villages of Uttar Pradesh. Due to prolonged school closure, children had lost interest in attending classes and there was a wide learning gap during this period. To bridge the learning gap among children, Oxfam India again started 15 Mohalla classes covering four districts of Uttar Pradesh. In these classes 321 children including 155 girls and 166 boys are getting education with the help of volunteers and Oxfam India team. Out of these children, 77 children are out of school.

📢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.    


Education

We work to achieve the goal of universal, inclusive and quality elementary education.

#IndiaWithoutDiscrimination Read More

Related Stories

Oxfam India's #COVID19 Response

09 Jun, 2022

New Delhi

Food Stall Supports Families

In New Delhi’s Anand Parbat is a roadside food stall that is collectively run by the Mahila Shakti Self-Help Group (SHG).

Read More

Oxfam India's #COVID19 Response

09 Jun, 2022

New Delhi

Cash For Livelihood

Salma and Zareena had struggled financially their entire lives. As if that was not enough – the lockdown worsened their situation and left them struggling to even get basic necessities like food.

Read More

Education

30 May, 2022

Uttar Pradesh & Jharkhand

1081 Out Of School Children Enrolled

As of 30 May, we enrolled 1081 out of school children in 7 districts in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Read More

Private Sector Engagement

30 May, 2022

Assam

UNNATEA: The Tea Workers App

Oxfam India has been working for tea plantation workers in Assam so that they can access their rights, attain improved living conditions and wages, and live a life of dignity.

Read More