Child protection unit to study ‘dropout syndrome’
A week after Express reported the intriguing case of Achankovil tribal hamlet where girls were sent to school and boys were asked to stay at home, the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) has now proposed a detailed study into the problems there.
KOLLAM: A week after Express reported the intriguing case of Achankovil tribal hamlet where girls were sent to school and boys were asked to stay at home, the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) has now proposed a detailed study into the problems there.
While emphasising the need for a coordinated effort between various departments - including that of Scheduled Tribes Development and Education - to bring the tribesmen into the mainstream, officers say the hamlet badly needs government intervention. Having visited the area last week, the DCPU found a few girls too had stopped attending school.
“Upon arrival, we met three girls preparing themselves to accompany parents to the forest,” DCPU officer Siju Ben told Express.“Sporting betel-stained teeth, they said they were school dropouts. Initially, they didn’t heed our requests to continue with their studies. After relentless pressure, we were able to convince them about the need to get back to school.”
According to him, more girls in the hamlet may have discontinued their studies due to varying reasons and only a detailed study could shed some light on the reasons behind the same. “It seems a mass campaign is needed in the area,” he said. “Menstrual seclusion is practised there as girls were sent to menstrual huts during periods. They didn’t use sanitary pads and have no knowledge about menstrual hygiene.
Though we don’t want to disturb their customs, we’ll certainly give them insights on the need to adhere to healthy practices like using sanitary pads. We’ll chalk out a campaign for the cause soon.”
Earlier, it was found the absence of a boy’s hostel in the area is costing the boys dear as they were asked to stay at their homes or to accompany their parents to forests for collecting wood or honey.
The parents then stated it’s impractical to travel back and forth through the dense forests on a daily basis to attend school. Kollam deputy director of education K S Sreekala had said the dropout rate of boys at Achankovil was comparatively greater than that of girls, the absence of a boys’ hostel being the main reason. According to her, though parents expressed willingness to send their boys to school, they decide otherwise when it comes to safety of their children.
On the Achankovil trail
While it was believed only the boys discontinued their studies at Achankovil, DCPU finds some girls too were school dropouts.
Tribals complain free-uniform scheme is of no use for them as there is no stitching facility there.
One tribesman complained: “I will have to travel all the way from Achankovil to Punalur for stitching the uniform and the travel charge itself comes to between D500 and D800.”
DCPU is looking for NGOs and volunteers to embark on a detailed survey and study at the tribal hamlet
It plans to rope in Scheduled Tribes Department, Education Department, District Administration and others for the cause.