BHUBANESWAR: A wind of change is sweeping through the tribal communities where a group of NRIs and their Indian volunteer friends have been trying to improve the state of primary education through a slew of programmes under India Literacy Project (ILP).
ILP has been working in eight States of the country including Odisha where they have partnered with NGOs to work in Dhenkanal and Keonjhar districts. Apart from focused intervention on strengthening existing primary education apparatus, it is also funding partner agencies for child rights advocacy.
The ILP projects are currently under implementation in 180 villages and hamlets covering 150 Anganwadis and 153 schools. In most of these areas which include Telkoi, Harichandanpur and Rasol, literacy rate among the tribal communities is as low as 25 to 35 per cent.
“Our core focus was to bring the children to school and keep them retained which we have slowly achieved. As of now, more than 60 per cent of the schools are functioning and at least one teacher is coming to each school,” said AL Rangarajan, Programme Manager, ILP India.
The focus has been to activate the school managing committees and mother committees so that dropout falls and retention improves. The initiative has borne fruit, slowly but surely, in around 40 per cent of the schools. Parateachers have been roped in to support regular schools. An integrated approach is adopted for child protection, development and care, said Sunita, a member of ILP’s US chapter.
Secretary of Unified Action Council Nimai Satapathy said a major area of focus as well as challenge has been to impart learning to children through tribal dialects in communities like Juang and Paudi Bhuyan. There are 29 such dialects but primers are available only for 10.
Chairperson of Campaign Against Child Labour Ranjit Pattnaik said advocacy to protect children from exploitation in beedi, mining and fisheries sectors has also been initiated under ILP. The objective has been to curtail the gaps and institutionalise the system. ILP is implementing 28 projects in 12 States covering three lakh children.