Sarpanch’s initiative brings Dalit kids back to school
Kendrapara: Around 25 school dropout kids, mostly Dalits and aged between 6 and 14 years, have resumed attending classes – thanks to the initiative taken by the PRI members of Bhagabatpur Gram Panchayat.
“When the matter came to my knowledge PRI members and I decided to encourage their families to send their dropout kids to school,” said Chitta Ranjan Behera, the sarpanch of Bhagabatpur Gram Panchayat.
“Being a public representative, my aim is to ensure all children of my panchayat are educated so that Bhagabatpur panchayat would be recognized as 100 per cent literate,” said Behera.
Behera said that a Dalit boy named Rakesh Mallick (13), the son of labourer Akhaya Mallick, left studies after completing Class IX as his father became lame in an accident. Circumstances forced Rakesh to work as a labourer to run the family. After coming to know about the incident, Behera and some PRI members went to Rakesh Mallick’s house and convinced his father, Akhaya, to send his child to school.
They assured Rakesh’s father of all help in getting him a handicapped certificate and monthly pension and Rakesh’s mother a job card under the MGNREGA.
Meanwhile, Rakesh has been attending classes at Balia Nodal Government High School.
Similarly, another Dalit boy, Pravat Mallick, the son of labourer Narendra Mallick, of ward No. 16, also left studies midway as his father used to spend all his money on liquor. Behera and his PRI members told Narendra to give up liquor and send his son to school. Now, he has been sending his son to school.
Chandia Raul, a Dalit, who was a pig farmer, stopped his two children, including a daughter, from going to school and asked them to look after the house after his wife fled with her lover. Now his children, Swadhin Raul (a student of Class VII) and Puja Raul, studying in Class V, are attending school again.
The PRI members have now sent 25 dropouts to schools again after discussions with the concerned headmasters and the BEO of Kendrapara.
“We have been providing them with school bags, copies, pen, pencils and footwear to encourage them to go to school again,” Dhiren Nath Swain, the Panchayat Samiti member of Bhagabatpur GP said.
Apart from this, since Sunday the sarpanch has also started adult education in Shyamsundarpur Dalit basti to educate illiterate adults. Fifteen adult learners are now attending the classes, which are functioning only Sunday evenings. The local sarpanch has been taking classes with the help of some educated youths.
According to Sabita Raula (32), wife of Subash Raula, she does not know to write her name in Odia or English as she is illiterate. She also cannot count money. Most of the time, shopkeepers cheated her. When she came to know that the sarpanch of her GP has started adult education classes, she joined it.
Similarly, septuagenarian Surendra Raula has also been a student in the adult education school in his village Shyasundarpur.
“I am now in old age. I may remain alive only a few years more, but I do not want to die illiterate,” said Surendra Raul.
Source: The Orissa Post, Sept 05, 2018