Swantana has big dreams to achieve

Swantana has big dreams to achieve

Household responsibilities forced Swantana* to drop out of school and stay at home for nearly five years. It was through Oxfam India-Sikshasandhan run Multi-Lingual Education (MLE) programme in Mayurbhanj District of Odisha that 12-year-old Swantana was enrolled in class six. The MLE programme focuses on helping children learn in their mother tongue, ensures regular attendance and cultivates basic learning skills among children.

Swantana’s parents separated when she was three-years-old; she started living with her mother. When she turned six, she started going to a school. She had joined class one but had to soon drop out as her school was far and there was no transport facility.  The other reason for her to leave school was also the fact that she couldn’t follow what was being taught in class. The classes were in Odiya and she belonging to the Ho tribe couldn’t understand the language. In fact many in her school dropped out due to the same reason.
 
Later Swantana’s mother re-married and the stepfather wasn’t keen on sending her to school; he wanted her to stay at home and do the household chores such as cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes. Swantana on the other hand longed for school, making new friends and learning and playing like the others. Her parents didn’t pay attention and they would have continued to do so had MLE volunteers supported by Oxfam India and Sikshasandhan not intervened. 

READ: PROMOTING MULTI-LINGUAL EDUCATION IN ODISHA'S ADIVASI BELT

Members of the children’s club in Swantana’s village notified the volunteers of her situation. These volunteers conduct teaching and learning activities in the village schools for the tribal children belonging to the Ho community. The volunteers visited her home on several occasion to convince her parents to send her to school as well as to explain to them the Right to Education Act. They explained that as per the Act Swantana is entitled to free and compulsory elementary education. The School Management Committee, community council, village youth, and even the village children intervened to convince her parents to send her to school. After several visits and challenges, her step-father eventually agreed.

But there remained another problem. The school refused to admit her in age appropriate class. It was only after MLE volunteers intervened and challenged the school with the RTE provision (that states children should be admitted in age appropriate class) that Swantana was finally admitted in class six. 

While she was enrolled in the formal education system, in order to catch up she had to attend special classes during the summer and additional coaching classes. Not only has she caught up with the years of education she missed, she is also performing well in her academics and extracurricular activities. She loves Language and Environmental Studies.; Swantana wishes to become a teacher when she grows up and teach children like her from her community. 

Swantana is not the only girl who dropped out of school because of household responsibilities or language barrier. Nearly 30 lakh girls in India are still out of school.*  Early marriages, household responsibilities, financial problems, preference of sons over daughters, and long distances to school are some the factors affecting girl child education in India. Oxfam India is working to achieve the goal of quality of affordable education for each child in India, especially the girl child. Oxfam India works with the most marginalised communities in the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh.

READ: EMPOWERING GIRLS THROUGH EDUCATION

Educating a girl child, creates a progressive society and is the key to achieving economic development. Oxfam India advocates for the proper implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE), works with grassroots organisations, community members, teachers, parents, children, and school authorities to raise awareness about the RTE, importance of girl child education, and monitors the implementation of RTE norms to ensure inclusive education. 

In 2018, Oxfam India’s support sent 7,084 boys and 6,003 girls to school. 136 schools and 117 Anagwadi centres were made functional. 440 School Management Committees (SMCs) were made functional in Primary and Upper Primary Schools.
 
Support from our donors helped us reach out to Swantana and thousands of girls like her to send them to school. You can support too, and give the gift of education to a vulnerable child. DONATE NOW. 


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