Eleven-year-old Ruby (renamed) had never been to school, as her father is a poor farmer who cultivates a small piece of land and her mother, Hansa Devi, a worker in the National Guarantee System. of Employment (MGNREGA). . Every day the parents leave Ruby at home to take care of the two little brothers. Early in the morning, Ruby takes water from a hand pump half a mile away, feeds the goats and helps her mother with cooking and other household chores, but sometimes to cover the family’s additional financial needs. He also goes out to work.
Ruby’s life has changed a lot since January 2021. In fact, in Solo Panchayat of the Kotra block located in Udaipur district in Rajasthan, a voluntary organization called Ujhala has been tasked with educating many other working children, including Ruby and other children from families affected by Kovid overnight. The campaign is called “Light in the Dark: Night Community Learning Centers.” These night school centers are called ‘Hiko Kendra’ in the local language. Like Ruby, 311 children are studying at these centers. Of these, 158 are girls and 153 are boys. Currently, four other centers of the institution are operating in Sola and Kotra gram panchayats of the Kotra block. The children who study in these belong to very poor families. These children were deprived of going to school because of daily wages or because of poverty their access to school was not possible. In other words, these schools address the educational needs of children who were unable to receive education during the Crown period.
Children’s rights organizations Save the Children and Works No Children Business (WNCB) have published a report entitled “State of child labor in key areas of Rajasthan and workers’ legal rights”. According to the report, thousands of children are engaged in agricultural work in the state. The report said they do not even receive adequate salaries for this job and are also deprived of their rights. Similarly, many children are given livestock work and are therefore deprived of the opportunity to go to school. According to a UNICEF report, even before the Crown epidemic, some 6 million children in India had dropped out of school for various reasons. This figure has experienced a significant increase in the two years of Corona. According to a UNICEF study, some 247 million children in primary and secondary schools have been affected by the closure of 1.5 million schools across India. According to the report, due to Crown, schools have been closed in India for longer than worldwide. Although classes were held online, thousands of children from poor and disadvantaged families were deprived because they did not have access to digital devices and the Internet. Most children in slums who went to school regularly before the pandemic came from families who could not afford the phones or other equipment needed to study online.
The director general of the organization, Ravi Kiran, told Kovid Response Watch that 95 per cent of the population of the Kotra bloc belongs to the tribal community. Only 39 percent of the arable land in this block is irrigated, and on average a family has only two to four acres of arable land. He said that due to the deteriorating financial situation of the family, even the young children in the house are engaged in work jobs. Although by law only children over the age of 14 can help with household chores with the family, they cannot be forced to work more than four hours. But here the children are fully put to work after taking them out of school. This is the reason why the number of out-of-school children in this area is much higher than expected. On the other hand, Manish Singh, of Manjari Sanstha, says that there is no system related to the strict application and monitoring of the law related to child wages, nor such a system that keeps the day going. labor of children working in households. … able to monitor. The measure is that there is no standard for finding out how much physical or mental harm is being caused to these children by these works.
In fact, the Night Community Learning Center is one of those educational centers for children affected by Corona, who are unable to access general education for various reasons. The educated young people of the village are selected to teach in these centers. In villages where there are no young teachers available, a person from the nearby village has the responsibility to teach. Children in these night shift schools do not charge a fee. Parents and children choose their time to attend these schools. These schools operate for three hours a night. The first half hour of worship is done in these centers. After that, yoga is done to eliminate physical and mental fatigue. The next two hours are then devoted to Hindi and math and then the remaining half hour is devoted to group discussion among the children. This includes some activities that remind children of what they have learned throughout the day. In addition to today’s activities of likes and dislikes, examples of helping or thanking someone are also part of the activity.
Aslam, another member of the organization, says that after the painful phase of Corona, everyone has suffered from an unusual type of mental stress. Although the children who participate in the activities organized by the schools are mentally sound. Children are also helped to develop the habit of expression through group discussions. Ruby, who studies at the center, says, “Before I couldn’t read or write, but after going to night school, I can read Hindi words and solve math as well. According to Ravi, it was said about Kotra before that because of the risk of crime and other security issues, he was not safe from wandering at night, but since the opening of the Night Community Learning Centers in the last year, this has been shown to be wrong. with the support of the local community and children, the night school model is proving to be a success.This innovative organization has made it easier for children from poor families affected by Corona to access education.
The author is a member of Work No Child Business