JHARKHAND: Amid lockdown, when schools and other educational institutions are closed, the children of Primary Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) in Jharkhand continue with their learning with the help of the ‘Pathshala Change Makers’ (PCM) appointed by the state government.
The Pathshala Change Makers offer handholding to the community in their day-to-day engagements. The objective of the initiative is to generate interest and inculcate a habit of reading and writing among the Primary Vulnerable Tribal Groups children for strengthening their basic education by the time they get school enrollment.
As many as 140 PVTG Pathshalas run in the most deprived geographic areas of 10 districts of the tribal-dominated state — Pakur, Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Garhwa, Latehar, Palamu, Gumla, Saraikela and East Singhbhum, under the Udaan project, benefiting nearly 3,000 PVTG children.
The enrollment process of these children continues, with a target of around 100 more PVTG Pathshalas this year. There are around 73,000 PVTG households living in extreme poverty. These groups have their own social and cultural identity with most of them living in remote forest areas. They depend on forest-based livelihood, hunting and livestock rearing and non-timber forest produce.
As per the 2011 census data, the literacy rate among PVTGs in Jharkhand is a poor 39.28 per cent, which is around half of the state literacy rate. Most PVTG children in Jharkhand lack basic and primary education.
To combat the situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) started an intervention plan — ‘PVTG Pathshala’ under the special project Udaan — a comprehensive and sustainable development of PVTGs in the year 2020. JSLPS CEO Nancy Sahay said a small education kit, which includes basic learning materials like chalk, slates, pencils, erasers, notebooks, sharpeners, storybooks, etc are provided to the children under the Udaan project.
“I have been running a PVTG Pathshala under which children who don’t have any other place to start their education process, are given basic and primary education for the last three months,” said PCM Naresh Parahiya.
He has been conducting a Pathshala for 21 children at a remote village Rangya under Manatu block of Palamu district, enabling them to enhance their knowledge through peer learning, he said.
To make it more effective, these Change Makers are appointed from their own community so that the children could identify themselves with them, he said.
“Other than teaching, the Pathshala Change Makers are also involved in creating largescale awareness among children’s parents for whom education is never a priority for their kids,” said Naresh.
Sunita Devi, a young mother says her son has been attending the Pathshala for three months. Being unlettered, she was worried about the future of her son as all the schools are closed due to the Covid-mandated lockdown, and she was not able to admit him to any school.
“Then I got to know about the Pathshaala. I decided to send my son there,” said Sunita Devi. Now, her son has started identifying Hindi and English language letters, besides counting, she says. Sunita lives in the village with her son while her husband works in Rajasthan.