01 Apr 2014 - 31 Mar 2015
01 Apr 2014 - 31 Mar 2015
Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 came after a century of struggle, and is, in that sense, historic, but it may amount to little, unless it is properly implemented, particularly in a state like Bihar. History shows that having an Act alone does not change the reality on the ground. State support, community involvement and civil society vigilance are necessary prerequisites for successful implementation of an Act which concerns large mass of population. After all Indian constitution had directed the State to ensure free and compulsory education within ten years from its commencement, a promise which still remains unredeemed. In some states educational scenario is particularly disappointing, and Bihar is one such state.
40 year old Bajayanti Devi lives in a village- Chiraiyatad and comes from a Mahadalit family. She is a ward member and also the president of the SMC, Chiraiyatad Primary School. It is predominantly a Dalit village, of nearly 70% Dalit household and 30% of the backward caste. 20-30% children of the Backward Community attend school situated outside the village, while all the Mahadalit children are enrolled in Primary School; Chiraiyatad attendance in the school is about 80%. The credit for admitting children of all the Dalit families to school and ensuring their regular attendance goes to Bajayanti Devi. Her children are also students of the same school.
When Bajayanti Devi, came in contact with the Oxfam India-EWES project, she became a crusader for children's right to education admitting students to school and ensuring their attendance. She has understood the provision of RTE Act at least the basic idea and was briefed about the work of SMC as well as the right of children to attend schools, in accordance with the fundamental right of children to free, compulsory and quality education. She has undertaken the task to admit children of the Dalit community to schools and that continue to attend school. She has taken the promise to work in a positive manner towards improvement of the school.
The Primary School at Chiraiyatad had two problems.
She took on the responsibility of bring all Dalit children to school and her effort has yielded results as students of Dalit families are coming to school.
When the school in open, she visits the Dalit families, explaining and requesting them attend classes she is constantly interacting with the parents / guardians explaining them the need to make their children literate. As a result of her effort about 80% children are attending classes.
The school did not have a building of its own. In a small room of 18 X 16 and in a verandah of 6 X 18 classes from Std 1-5 are held.
On Aug 15, 2013 the Chief Minister of Bihar visited the area. As a member of SMC and ward member, Bajayanti Devi strongly demanded from the Chief Minister, a building for the school.
The Chief Minister went around the area and assured that the building would be constructed. Manju Devi another member of SMC accompanied her, and they constantly put up pressure on the department officials. The permission to construct the school near the Community Hall was given and on October 25, 2013 the construction of the school building began.