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Location

24 villages in Ram Nagar block of West Champaran district, Bihar
Thematic Focus: Education, Protection


Project Background

DEEP was registered in 1991 under the Society Registration Act, with an objective of mobilizing the marginalized community for issue based movement for their rights. It started working on education as an entry point in the Gaunaha block with the Tharu community. Many projects were initiated later working on children’s education, child labor, successfully run non-formal education (NFE) centers, strengthening the organization of Tharu community, supporting their cause for Scheduled Tribe status and rights over forest etc. DEEP is currently working in 24 villages in the Ram Nagar block of West Champaran district which is situated in the lap of the Himalayan mountain range and is predominantly inhabited by the Tharu and Oraon tribes with a very nominal presence of minorities and dalit communities. The project has been focusing on education and protection issues for the last three years.

Problem Statement:


A secure future for children starts with a good beginning of pre-school education (PSE). However, all the children in the project area do not have access to Anganwadi centers which are supposed to deliver pre-school education. There are only 24 operational ICDS Anganwadi centers and project efforts were able to secure approves for 5 more such centers over the last year. An assessment during the last year found that 583 children in 3- 6 year old age-group are not attending the ICDS centers due to non-availability of the centers in their proximity. There are five hamlets which do not have any ICDS Anganwadi centers. And, among the ICDS Anganwadi centers available, the focus is restricted to providing supplementary nutrition services only which was hardly monitored by supervisors and the CDPO due to difficulties associated with the mountainous terrain in the region. Pre-school education was not among the services in almost all the centers until two years ago. The advocacy liaison with the government officials from the project has ensured that initiatives are taken towards making the pre-school education curriculum a part of the ICDS center management. In the last year, the Government of Bihar has conducted training for the CDPO and Supervisors on implementing the NAYEE PAHAL (Early Childhood Care and Education curriculum). But the process is yet to reach the frontline Anganwadi Workers and they are hardly aware of the PSE curriculum, processes and usages of the TLM (teaching learning materials). In 6 ICDS centers, DEEP provided TLM and mobilized the community for infrastructural support which is another critical deficit area along with the regularity of Anganwadi workers. The weak demand of pre-school education services due to the poor understanding of its needs is another major concern. The job of making the pre-school education services functional and visible is facing difficulties as most of the personnel employed has been recruited from locally powerful families whose primary interests is salary.

The 20 odd project villages have just 14 Primary Schools, 7 Middle Schools and 2 High Schools and 1 Higher Secondary school for school education. These are short of requirements across age groups when considered against the population and access challenges in forested and hilly terrains. The middle schools were recently upgraded without a commensurate facility and infrastructure improvements to ensure delivery of respective level of services. The access to senior secondary schooling (11th & 12th grades) has remained a big challenge for many children in the project as there is only one school in the area serving the surrounding 15 kilometers. However, the big challenges for the tribal community has remained a shortage of trained teachers speaking the local language i.e. Tharu and Oraon which is restricting class transactions right at the primary level. A recent assessment of staffing in the schools in the project area found that 50 out of 68 teachers employed are non-natives who prefer to stay in rented accommodations in nearby towns only except for two teachers. This is affecting the regular attendance of teachers. This, coupled with a high student to teacher ratio of 50 to 80 and upward of 130 in a single teacher school, has badly affected the teaching-learning process in the schools. While a section of economically well off parents can afford the private coaching support for school going children, this is mushrooming the absence of quality education in schools. This is not securing a bright future for a large section of tribe children in the project area. DEEP has initiated efforts to strengthen community and school management committees to work on these. A approve has also been planned for a scheduled tribe residential school which would need a good amount of effort to finish.

The poor access to higher education right from secondary schooling has continued to assist the pre-existing social practices and norms which included engagement of children in labor of various forms and child marriage including their justifications. The engagement of children from the project area into child labor range from daily wage work in the area for Rs. 50/- (approximately US $ 0.70) for a day to migration to work in agricultural farms in the state of Punjab and shop floors in cities like Bangalore and Delhi which is putting a whole life of children in peril. Thus, ensuring access to quality pre-school and school education for children in this project area to safeguard their future will involve herculean task of intervening across all aspects of the services and facilities of pre-school and school education and improving the community’s dream for their children.

Achievements & Impact


Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

Result Area: Education Objectives:
1) In 24 villages, 100% of children aged 3-6 years old are enrolled in ICDS Anganwadis.
2) In 24 villages, 100% of children aged 6-14 years old are retained in schools.

* Organize one block level SMC[1] consultation to highlight issues of textbook shortage and teachers’ availability & regular attendance.
* Organize one quarterly meeting with Tharu Kalyan Sangh to raise the issues of residential schools, teacher’s availability, teacher’s regular attendance, and programs to assist access to education.
* Make ECCE assessment cards operational in 7 ICDS centers and analyze the findings to strengthen the services.
* Mobilizing members of 22 SMCs to participate in the meetings and empower children groups to voice out their requirements in appropriate forums.
* Continuing the coaching center in 3 villages (Pipra, Naurangia, Sitalwari Semrahani) for girls for Grade 9 and 10.
* Conduct follow-ups with the ICDS workers to implement the learning of training and use the teaching and learning methodology (TLM) as prescribed.
* Rapid assessment of 22 schools which comes under the RTE act and develop a school wise plan.
* Mobilization of community resources and CBO[2]s to ensure 4 teachers deployed in Gobhariya High School are able to continue teaching.
* Motivating the children who are qualifying for the Grade 10 exam to pursue admission in +2 Schools (Gobhariya schools).

* 52 small group meetings with the SMC were organized with 374 members attending with the following agendas:

  • Motivating SMC members to do home visits and monitor the education of the children;
  • Interface with the school teachers for textbooks, stipends and MDM;
  • Ensuring MDM and other incentives.

* 4 Anganwadi centers were made functional during the reporting period.
* 968 children received their immunizations in collaboration with ICDS, ASHA, and ANM.
* 96 groups were formed during this period. Each group was comprising of 8-10 children in the age group of 14-18 years old. These children were continuing their group studies. Local youths facilitated these sessions.
* 22 teachers were mobilized during the period who facilitated home based education in the operational area.
* 23 schools ensured distribution of the mid-day meals, cash transfer and all due stipends for cycles, uniform and sanitary napkins for girls.
* 124 children in the 6-18 year old age group needing remedial classes / additional support were enrolled in remedial classes.
* 62 children who are in Grade 10 were provided with materials for education support.
* 25 children are regularly attending classes in the digital center. They are learning basic computer skills on MS-Office, painting and functional knowledge of information technology.
* 35 children are regularly attending library sessions and accessing story books.


Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

Result Area: Protection
Objectives: 1) Reduction in child labor in project areas.
2) Prevention of child marriage in 24 villages.

* Organize 144 meetings with children collectives on protection issues like child marriage, child labor, and unsafe migration.
* Organize capacity building programs in 2 phases in 2 Gram Panchayats level Child Protection Committees (CPC) and sensitizing on issues of child marriage and unsafe migration.
* Organizing a block level CPC consultation involving local CPC members, government officials and District Child Protection Unit (DCPU).
* Conduct capacity building of CBOs leaders in six phases on child protection issues and available systems.
* Organizing anti-child marriage week campaign in all villages in collaboration with CPC and DCPU.
* Facilitate negotiation with local child labor employers to ensure children who are removed from workforce and are enrolled in schools.
* Linking the families with MNREGS, PDS and pension programs through interface with Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI).

* 32 children collectives and 84 adolescent collective members were sensitized through meetings on protection issues like child marriage, child labor, and unsafe migration.
* 1,236 children were rescued from agriculture fields, stone crushing process, construction work and mainstreamed.
* 17 children who came back to their villages during the Covid lockdown period were linked with schools in Grade 9, 10 and 11 in Gobhariya school.
* 11 vulnerable children were identified by project supervisors. Their parents initiated the process for their early marriage. However, due to the project’s intervention their marriages were stopped.
* 22 early marriages were prevented in project periphery villages by the volunteers and CPC members.
* 3 Girls sport groups were formed during this period who are being trained in Kabaddi and Volleyball.
* 587 workdays of MNREGA jobs and 398 job cards were issued through efforts of the team members.
* 282 families were linked with the social protection programs during the year.

Highlight of Covid Relief activities done by DEEP:


Take Home Rations and mid-day meal distribution: During the pandemic period, the project team mobilized teachers of all 22 schools functional in the operational area and ensured distribution of resources mandated by the government for mid-day meals. Similarly, after sustained dialogue and interface with the ICDS workers, the project team was successful in ensuring Take-Home Ration (THR) distribution in 29 functional ICDS centers in the operational area.

Linkages of families with the PDS (Public distribution system): 633 families were benefitted as they received their ration cards under the PDS from the department of civil supplies. Along with this special intervention, the project also collaborated with the local PRI members to ensure the PDS supported food grains to more than 5,000 families as per government notification. [5 Kg rice (cereal), 2 Kg Dal (pulse), spices, oil and soap]

Awareness building on Covid-19, opening up quarantine centers and distribution of masks and soaps: 33,936 masks and 12,634 soaps were distributed in the operational area in collaboration with the PRI. 5 quarantine centers were also set up for the migrant workers returning due to the Covid preventive lockdown.

Case Story:


Raju Kumar (name changed) son of Sita Devi and Ghansyam Mahato left his school in 2018 after he passed the board examination. An economic crisis in his family was the core reason to migrate to Surat with his fellow community. He started as a daily wage worker in a diamond cutting factory in Surat. Since then he was earning Rs. 8,000/- (approximately US $ 110) per month. This source was very crucial for his parents as they were also landless daily wage workers. Within three months, Raju became sick and had been suffering from work hazard induced diseases. He communicated with his parents but continued his work by compulsion.

During this period, DEEP launched an intensive campaign against child labor in the operational area. They organized Nukkad Sabha (Street Theater), anti-child labor campaigns, village level rallies and children led cultural programs to act as a change maker in the mindset of the parents. These awareness campaigns helped Raju’s parents understand the ill effects of child labor. The project supervisors during the home visit process discovered this case and immediately started dialogues with Raju and his parents. The project team also involved local youth and CBO members to convince Raju and his parents. After a series of counseling sessions, Raju finally left his job and came back to the village.

Then another phase of intervention started which is enrollment of Raju in SSRS –Gobhariya High School. After a long argument with the school, he was admitted in Grade 12 in 2019 and appeared for his higher secondary exam in 2020. He passed the exam and received admission to college for his graduation studies. In between, he was brought in to the Digital Literacy Center and provided basic computer skills. Now, Raju has become a volunteer for the DEEP project and is involved in the digital center operation process with other children. He is also preparing for the competitive exam and dreaming to be a government employee. A collaborative and sustained approach helped to bring this change. An adequate dialogue with examples of change stories helped a lot to remodel the mind-set of people.

Plans


The following are the broad action plans for DEEP for the coming year:

Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Focus:Pre-School / Early Childhood Education and Development (for children 3-5 years old)

* Child tracking and enrollment of children in ICDS in the 3-6 year old age group. Motivating mothers to send their children regularly to the ICDS centers through mothers meetings.
* Implementation of the ECCE assessment card quarterly in 7 ICDS centers and data analysis.
* Identification of ICDS centers where teaching and learning materials are not available; motivating the Anganwadi workers to use the teaching learning materials as prescribed.
* Providing support to newly approved ICDS centers for its functioning.

Protection: School Education and Nutrition (for children 6-18 years old)

* Organize Block level School Management Committee (SMC) consultation focusing on textbooks and teachers’ availability and regular attendance.
* Quarterly meetings with Tharu Kalyan Sangh and raising the problems of residential schools, teachers’ availability and regular attendance, textbooks, separate toilets for girls and other Right to Education (RTE) compliances.
* Discussion with head teachers of 7 middle schools regarding the special class after school resumes.
* Ensuring admission of girls in KGVB[3] and Special Training Centers run by the state government
* Continuing the Coaching Center in 3 villages (Pipra, Naurangia, Sitalwari Semrahani) Grade 9 and 10 for girls.
* Tracking the transition of the children 6-14 years old with special focus on school change for Grades 5 to 6, 8 to 9, and 10 to 11 and board appearing students to ensure they join the next classes.
* Linking the eligible and vulnerable children in the Digital Learning Center for gaining computer skills.
* Providing support to 10 children for appearing for the computer exam for certification.

Focus: Child Participation

* Capacity building of children on child center module on the following life skills and behavioral indicators:

  • Self-empowerment - Self esteem
  • Proactive thinking - critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence - emotional expression
  • Interpersonal communication - body language
* Organizing workshop with 30 children collective leaders in two phases (2 days residential)
* Meeting with adolescent girls’ group on child labor, child marriage, unsafe migration and impact of early marriage etc.

Plans


Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Focus: Covid Related Program Activities

* Mobilizing PRI[4] members and teachers to ensure school sanitization process and other Covid safety protocols are adhered to.
* Display of IEC[5] materials on COVID-19 in school premises.
* Organizing hand washing demonstrations in school; liaison with local PRI to ensure that ICDS centers are sanitized before they are opened.

Focus: Child Protection – Stakeholder Awareness on child labor, child marriage, migration; and strengthening institutional system for Prevention & Rehabilitation

* Organizing village level and ward level meetings on child protection issues like child labor, unsafe migration, early marriages and impact of COVID-19 on the protection domain.
* Capacity building program to be organized in two phases with 2 Gram Panchayat level Child Protection Committees (CPC) and CBOs and sharing on the child protection issues and available systems.
* Link vulnerable children 6-14 years old with DEEP run library.
* Linking the families with MNREGA[6], PDS[7] and pension programs through negotiation with the PRI.

Focus: Migration and Child Labor

* Developing the list of children who have been migrated as an impact of COVID-19 and entered into the workforce; sharing the data with the WLCPC[8] members and requesting to take action.
* Organizing anti-child labor week campaign in all villages
* Negotiation with child labor at local level - counseling support and removal from workforce and telephone discussion with parents and children.

Focus: Child Marriage

* Awareness meeting with the CPC members against child marriage; Involving the local Panchayat , CBO members , school teachers and parents on child marriage campaign.
* Organizing anti-child marriage week campaigns in all villages in collaboration with CPC and DCPU[9].
* Identification of vulnerable cases through children groups and other sources and counseling support.

  • School Management Committee
  • Community Based Organizers
  • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya
  • Panchayati Raj Institution
  • Information Education Communication
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
  • Public Distribution System
  • Ward Level Child Protection Committee
  • District Child Protection Unit

Total amount disbursed in 2020: 22,708


Financial Summary: January to December 2021


Budget Breakup 2021

Nutrition

457

3%

Education

5,023

33%

Protection

3,044

20%

Participation

3,805

25%

Admin

2,892

19%

Total Grant Approved

15,221

100%