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Little ‘informal schools’ take on big challenges

It is common for the parents of the girls of the Musahar or Sadai communities to arrange for their marriages once their children attain the age of puberty, but now what appeared to be a simple supplementary education programme is changing attitudes, and encouraging Dalit parents to steer away from unsafe child marriages

An effective education programme goes beyond the confines of the classroom. Improving the quality of education also means helping children in difficult circumstances cope with the homework and so on.

The ‘informal education centres’ started in February 2016 by BDVS in partnership the Kinder Mission, reaches out to Dalit kids in grades 5 through 10 who are in school, as well as girls who have had to drop out of the school system for various reasons. Not only do these centres impart supplementary education, important activities are also organised.

Recently, a series of gender sensitization and education activities were organised at these centres

Some 230 kids: 110 girls and 120 boys avail of special classes in five of these centres. Each centre has two teachers who teach for 3 hours every evening.

Chautham block has two centres: one in Pipra panchayat, called ‘Keshav Nagar Musahari Kendra’ with 20 girls and 24 boys; and another in Neerpur panchayat, with 15 girls and 30 boys known as Neerpur Musahari Kendra.

In Khagaria, there are three centres: one in Gangour panchayat called Khalandar Sadai Tola Kendra with an enrolment of 16 girls and 31 boys; in Ramuniya panchayat, Ramuniya Sadai Tola Kendra has 35 girls and 13 boys and the Ramuniya Purvi Sadai Tola, has 24 girls and 22 boys.

In these communities, when girls grow to the age of 12 to 14 they were traditionally given in marriage but the BDVS ‘informal school’ has made a big change. 24 drop-out girls have rejoined school, thus the centres have motivated parents to permit the girls to continue their studies.

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