East and West Educational Society (EWES)

Project Theme

Education

Target Group

Others

Project Period

01 Apr 2015 - 31 Mar 2016

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Introduction

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.

Bihar is not only economically backward, but educationally too she stands at the bottom. In the latest Educational Development Index (EDI) calculated by NUEPA based on DISE data for 2009, Bihar continues to be the most backward state educationally. It is sometimes said that it is not just India but the whole world that suffers from what is called the ‘ Bihar fatigue ‘It is a state that sends out stories of economic backwardness, of caste and class violence, severe violation of human rights and examined through the lens of HDI indicators it stands at the bottom of the ladder. Although Bihar is a land of experiments in the area of education, education had taken a back seat in the last two decades of the 20th century. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan held out new hopes though a decade later the achievements have remained meager. Now the Right to Education has become an Act that recognizes education as a fundamental right of children. For this Act to be implemented it is not just the Government but the society at large who have to come together for the implementation of the Act. Over the past some years, and more vigorously after the passage of the Act, Voluntary Forum for Education (a network of more than 300 NGOs working across the state) has focused its activities on RTE implementation. Last three Annual conferences have been organized on related themes and several other organizations have come on the joint platform at the initiative of EWES and Voluntary Forum for Education (VFE), including Teachers' Associations, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, and other agencies.

 

The Project: 

The basic aim of the project is to plan and sustain a State level campaign on the RTE Act, with demonstrable and specific models on successful pro-people implementation of the Act. It will be necessary to sensitize the State government to implement RTE faithfully. 

The project is extended to cover the two panchayats in Patna District, and the block is Bihta because it is a rural block with a considerable Musahar population, one of the most backward Mahadalit communities of Bihar.

The project seeks to address the state level problems while creating a viable model in the field. The field level intervention will pertain to implementation of RTE with particular attention to inclusion and quality issues, along side community involvement. 

The grass root level activity will look at the functioning of the 20 elementary schools from 18 villages, the quality of education, the role of the SMCs, participatory planning processes like the school and the cluster development plan, exclusion issues and on the basis of the data generated, carry the research forward to the level of policy planners in the government and local authorities. The data and the understandings will be shared with the national alliances working on RTE.

 

The specific objectives of the project are 

•Sensitizing the State government to implement RTE faithfully.

•Quality improvement with equity in the working of schools and teaching- learning & evaluation processes.

•Strengthening and working through Community Level Institution and Networks for the assertion of Right to Education.  

 

The Impact: 

Oxfam India along with its partner initiated the process of strengthening the civil society movement towards realizing the right on education. We have so far-

•Increased awareness among the communities, relevant stakeholders on provisions under Right to Education Act in the project area of EWES and largely through the state forum on RTE in the state. 

•Manual on School Development Plan under RTE Act has been prepared.   

•Strong linkages with the RTE state forum and National RTE forum. Undertook the exercise towards preparation of a stock taking report for the state of Bihar.

•Identified district networks on education were strengthened towards effective implementation provisions under RTE Act.

•Liasoning with the Education Department, Government of Bihar, SCERT and the various teaching bodies, like the Prathmik and Madhyamik Shikkshak Sangh, All India Science Teachers Association etc.

•Established linkages with community and civil society organizations.

•Various interventions related to School Management Committees  (SMC)- eg, submission of suggestions towards modification of rules and assisting in formations of SMCs in the schools of the project area.

 

Quotes of Beneficiaries: Shambhu Devi, Community members says that every women should be aware of importance of education and spread the message to ones neighbor so as we can shape a better future for our dear children.

 

Case Studies/Human stories: 

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. (1) The school did not have a building of its own. (2) Absenteeism among Dalit Children.

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.