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Location

9 slum pockets in Varanasi city, Uttar Pradesh
Thematic Focus: Education & Protection


Project Background

Dr. Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation (SRF) is a secular, non-profit development organization, which was established by a group of development professionals under the inspiration of literary figure and social activist late Dr. Shambhunath Singh. In the initial phase, the organization worked in the field of protection and development of culture, art and literature. Over the last 2 decades, SRF has undertaken interventions on child rights, women’s empowerment, human rights, urban development and environment protection in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. SRF has partnered with a number of national and international organizations to support projects in and around Varanasi city. The Project Holder, Dr. Rajeev Kumar Singh, has around 25 years of experience working with the UP state Voluntary Health Association and various government committees. He has been honored with the ‘Red and White Bravery Gold Medal’ in 2001 for his work against child labor, by Godfrey Phillips India Limited.


Problem Statement

According to the Population Census of 2011, Varanasi has a population of 3,682,194 with a population density of 2,399 inhabitants per square kilometer. The population growth rate of the district has declined over the decade from 25.5 % to 17.3 % and it has fallen below the state’s population growth rate over the decade (20.1 %). In addition, sex ratio recorded nominal improvement from 903 to 909 over a decade. While the adult literacy rate has been increasing, a significant disparity can be seen between male (85.1 %) and female (68.2 %) literary rates. In terms of health outcome, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for the district is 2.6, which is higher than the national fertility rate or desired TFR. Varanasi is an age old city and because of its history and tradition it has become a hub of issues linked with culture & tradition. Child marriage is one of the most important issues which have been liked with tradition, poverty, dowry practices, lack of opportunities for education, insecurity for a girl.

In the year-end assessment conducted for this project, four main areas have been identified as root causes for the unsafe environment for children: (1) a non-functional and unaccountable local governance and child protection system; (2) unsafe school environments; (3) weak family support system; and 4) Lack of community awareness. In order to fully understand child rights violations, it is important to look at the child, his or her direct surroundings such as family, school and community, local governments’ facilities, and functioning of institutional structures responsible to secure these rights. In Varanasi, the local governance and child protection systems are there but ineffective due to low knowledge about child rights and child protection, low capacity to deliver on child rights, and low capacity in participatory processes to fulfill their responsibilities. There are government schemes, initiatives and structures in place, but they do not reach the vulnerable children and families at the last mile. The families’ and community members’ knowledge of ways and means to participate and claim their rights is low. The project intervention area comprises the most marginalized and includes people from the caste of Rajbhar, Harijan, Dom, Muslims and Pasi. Child marriage is deeply embedded in these community and many families also live under extreme pressure with scarce sources of income, forcing the children into child labor, children and families opting into unsafe migration, lacking health status and poor attendance in school. Most of the people from this community are daily wage workers, weavers or semi-skilled laborers. Educating the girls is not a priority for the parents and they prefer that their daughters stay at home or are married at a younger age in an attempt to ensure their safety. There is no access to schooling after primary school and children of the slums have to cover a long distance to attend upper primary school, which is restricting window for course correction and providing safe avenues for children to develop themselves.

Presently, SRF is working in 9 slums in Varanasi district with main focus on child marriage and education. It is using child participation, community participation / engagement, government and stakeholder interface, and education as tools to address the issues. In the previous year child marriages were reported by the adolescent girls and were prevented by the intervention of the alert group along with the field staff. Efforts have been made at each level through various strategies to raise the issue of child marriage and make a collective approach to prevent child marriage. However the issue of child marriage remains and poses a huge risk to the safety of girls.

Achievements & Impact


Key Result Areas Achievements

Result Area: Create an enabling environment that empowers children to influence decision making on issues that affects them.

Create an enabling environment that empowers children to influence decision making on issues that affects them. * Roll out child participation training modules in intervention areas. Documenting the impacts which emerged from different areas of life skill training like negotiation, decision making, critical thinking, teamwork etc.
* Ensure the practices of skills acquired through TIE (Theatre in Education) workshop by performing in awareness programs in community and school.
* Tracking of already identified eligible children to be linked with welfare schemes, and follow up of progress of children linked with the schemes.

* Profiles of 36 children’s groups were updated based on the ladder of participation (6-10 years, 10-14 years and 14-18 years) and strengthened children’s collectives by defining the clear objective and agenda for the meetings.
* 425 children (220 boys & 205 girls) were members of ‘Bal Mantri Mandal’ formed at school level.
* Child participation training module rolled out in the project area and 60 children (15 boys & 45 girls) from target slums participated in the life skill sessions as per the child center module.
* 1,050 children (414 boys & 636 girls) participated in Baal Dhamal celebration.
* 2 batches (60 students) have completed the course under Digital Learning Center with technical support of NIIT Foundation, New Delhi. Third batch is undergoing the training.



Key Result Areas Achievements

Result Area: Create informed, sensitized, empowered family members and community to stop child marriage.

* Conduct community awareness camp in all 9 bastis of Varanasi on child marriage, to explain legal consequences as well as ill effect on overall growth and development on children, sharing the details of relevant stakeholders and processes for annulment, issuing of injunction with the community.
* Organize awareness camps on child marriage with the help of District Legal Service Authority (DLSA).
* Organize regular monthly meetings with all the 9 Alert Groups in its intervention areas. The Alert Groups keep track of child marriage and other protection issues in their community and will keep updating the project team at regular basis.
* Mapping/ identification of victims of child marriage to counsel and help to share the problems and challenges.

* Community awareness camps were conducted in all 9 bastis of Varanasi on child marriage, its legal consequences as well as ill effect on overall growth and development on children. 325 people (110 male & 215 females) participated in this camp/meeting and 22 cases of prospective child marriages were identified and strategy was developed to work towards their prevention.
* Follow up on previous cases on child marriage issues was done and 51 victims were assisted through Aap Biti program. Re-marriage of 6 victims was facilitated and two child marriage victims were linked with Asha Jyoti Kendra of Varanasi for rehabilitation.
* Regular monthly meetings with all the 9 Alert Groups enabled tracking of child marriages and other protection issues in its intervention. As a result of these 22 prospective cases of child marriage were identified and strategy was developed to work towards its prevention. Two critical cases each in Daniyalpur slum and Ruppanpur were identified by alert group and initiative was taken to give them benefits of schemes.
* Mapping/identification of child marriages documents was updated and accordingly needs and challenges of victims were identified. Based on this one child marriage survivor was linked with Self-help group to make her independent, another survivor was linked with widow pension scheme and a third was given benefit of sponsorship scheme and Ration Card was provided to her.



Key Result Areas Achievements

Result Area: Ensuring vigilant governance for child protection in operational areas.

* Regular capacity building of the team on revised JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act and other schemes and laws relating to children.
* Organize a consultation workshop for developing district action plan in association with DWCD (Department of Women and Child Development) and other stakeholders.
* Networking and alliance building with like-minded organizations and individuals to build pressure on the government for formulation of the SoP (Standard Operating Procedures) and state rules for the Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA).
* Organize awareness meeting with the community leaders on the menace of child marriage and seek their inputs and support to stop child marriages.

* The team put efforts for strengthening of Ward Child Protection Committee (WCPC) with member secretary / ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) workers under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in the urban areas of Varanasi District. For this orientation of 79 Ward members was done on formation of WCPC. Capacity building of members of 6 WCPC was organized. 24 WCPCs were formed with the help of students of Mahatma Gandhi ‘Kashi Vidyapeeth’ college.
* 2 meetings of each WCPC was organized and the issues such as lack of Anganwadi workers in AWCs, issues of mid-day meal in schools, identification of children engaged in child labor, child marriage in Dom community of Ward No. 85, issue of refurbishment of school building in Ward Number 31 was also raised.
* Regular community meetings were organized at Community Information Center (CIC) to create space for children and community leaders for sharing their ideas and experience related to child marriage. Evening classes were being organized in the center in which 273 children participated regularly.



Key Result Areas Achievements

Result Area: Ensuring access and quality education for all children at primary, upper primary and secondary school level.

* Profiling of drop-out and never-been-to-school children.
* Continuation of retention tracking of children in the field areas with the help of teacher, parents and team.
* Initiate spoken English classes for the adolescent girls.
* Linkage of drop out children with the National Institution of Open schooling, Skill Development Mission, Industrial Training Institute, Polytechnics and other skill development institutes/ schemes.
* Follow up of capacity building for staff, volunteers and the School Management Committee (SMC) on learning outcome and assessment, quality education and interface with the school teachers.
* Interface meetings with SMC, Education Dept and Dist. Education Committee for sharing of findings on learning assessment.

* Process for enrolment of out of school children (6-14 year) continued throughout the year. There were 2,518 children in 6-14 years and out of them 89% children were previously continuing with schooling. A total of 79 children were further enrolled in school. Another 12 children were enrolled in open shelters. And, a total of 210 children continue to be out of school among which 104 children were dropped out, 52 boys were child labor, and 54 children were never-been-to-school.
* Among the children secured access to govt. schemes, 4 girl children were linked with skill development scheme, 1 male child got the benefit of sponsorship scheme under ICPS, and 12 children engaged in child labor were enrolled in open shelter.
* Children in the age group of 14 - 18 years were mapped. There were 1,735 children in this age group among whom 51% (878) were in school and 857 were out of school. Among the latter 632 children were dropped out, 229 children were never-been-to-school, 285 were into child labor. Four child labors were enrolled in the Digital Learning Center (DLC).

Highlights of technical and capacity building inputs:

In addition to scheduled guidance and monitoring, CRY had organized below inputs to the project:
* CRY has guided the project team on ways and means of Strengthening the Ward Level Child Protection Committee (WCPC). The project team, as per guidance, has taken up the issue with District Child Protection Committee (DCPC) and also Mayor of Varanasi. This has resulted in issuing order for the formation of the Ward Child Protection Committee (WCPC) in urban areas. So far, 6 Ward level CPCs have been formed in various project areas and they are being oriented on their role and responsibilities.
* A two-member team participated in 6-day training on child participation conducted by CRY - Child Center. The project team was oriented on life skills during project monitoring visits. They were also provided with resource materials to assist with cascading the life skill building exercises to children groups. The project team has started orientation of children groups on life skills. The process will also be initiated with the parents’ groups in the coming year.
* The project has initiated training of two e-volunteer from each slum on use of computer tablets with support from Vikas Samvad Samiti, Bhopal, to create awareness and find IT based solutions to address their problems. As a result, 10 households from Dom community of Manikarnika Ghat benefitted from National Food security act (NFSA). Also, two adolescent girls initiated making handmade jewelry after learning the same from YouTube.

Highlights on community action and government interface:

The poor uptake of welfare programs is an area of concern. While the predominant pattern is that the target community hardly knows about such program and thus do not seek access to such services and entitlements. However, in this case, the project had submitted an application for sponsorship support for 24 children. The project team organized regular follow-ups with District Child Protection Unit (DCPU), District Probation office (DPO), District Collector for release of budget for various welfare programs including child sponsorship program. Also, discussions were held with the concerned officials during a review meeting regarding identification of eligible children for sponsorship. As a result of all such efforts 10 children (out of 24) received the sponsorship support program.

Plans


Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Strengthening implementation of norms under RTE Act.

* Organize capacity building to sensitize staff, volunteers and the school management committee (SMC) on RTE norm and their implementation.
* Preparing status report availability of upper primary schools and facilities in schools vis-à-vis RTE norms and advocate for minimizing gaps through sharing this report with the District Education Department, and state and national commission for protection of child rights.
* Advocacy with MLA (elected reps) for school up-gradation;
* Mapping of education related scholarship schemes, reimbursement system, etc. and sharing with the community.

Improve enrolment, retention and regularity in schools in the project area.

* All children in 6-18 years age group will be mapped to identify out of school and irregular children;
* Ensure 100% enrolment and retention amongst project community;
* Organize remedial classes for low performing children.
* Enroll dropped out children in the age-group of 15-18 years in open school board (NIOS), projects under Skills Development Mission, ITIs, polytechnics and other skill development institutes/Schemes;
* Organizing motivation/ career Counseling camp at community level for link to education & other opportunities.



Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Strengthening child protection institutions and mechanisms.

* Organize interface meetings with government officials responsible for child protection and child marriage in specific (Police, CWC, CMPO, and DCPO) to sensitize them on legal provisions and significance of their actions.
* Advocacy with District Child Protection Society (DCPS) to develop District Action Plan (DAP) on child protection, and follow up with Women and Child Development department for implementation of DAP, including allocation of budget under ICPS (integrated child protection scheme).
* Conduct a study on status of facilities and satisfaction of needs of mentally challenged children vis-à-vis procedures laid down in POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offense) Act with the help of law colleges.
* Advocate with govt. officials for developing CBCPM (Community based child protection mechanism) structure.
* Organize interface with officials responsible for ICPS implementation to ensure improved budget allocation, utilization and transparency.

Strengthen community level action for improved protection of children from CR violations.

* Conduct child risk analysis (Identification of vulnerable children and their home) with participation of children’s groups in all 9 slums and facilitate a process to link such families and children with relevant social protection schemes and programs.
* Prepare and share status report on child marriage in the project area and intervention strategies adopted and achievements with relevant stakeholders to strengthen govt. institutions and programs.



Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Strengthen children collectives and agency of children through skills building.

* Updating profiles of 36 children’s groups and strengthening collectives by defining their objectives clearly and regularly organizing meetings to discuss emerging issues of children and facilitate actions.
* Roll out of child participation training modules and document impacts emerging from different life skill trainings including access to govt. schemes and strengthen their understanding according to their age group through discussions in meetings.
* Linking children with skill development and enrolling them in digital learning center and follow up of 150 children trained in previous year programs (digital learning center) and to ensure that they practice their learning regularly;
* Organize Baal Dhamal and celebration of children’s week;

Financial Summary: January to December 2020


Budget Breakup 2020

Education

9,568

36%

Protection

9,568

36%

Administration

7,517

28%

Total Grant Approved

26,653

100%