Mushahar Children/File photo.
SHAMBHUNATH, SAPTARI: A nine-year-old Satish Sada of the Musahar settlement in Shambhunath Municipality-7 in Saptari district did not go to school.
Although the school nearby is at a distance of about 500 meters from his home, he would spend time playing at home but did not go to school. Now, he has started going to school with textbooks and exercise books.
Nowadays, the routine of 11-year-old Ashok Sada from the same village has also changed. He is enrolled in Buddhilal Munar Secondary School near his home.
Not only Satish and Ashok but the children of the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities, which are extremely backward, are lately getting attracted to education. Until a few years ago, only a very small number of Musahar children would go to school.
These days the number of Musahar children going to school has shot up. The municipality is predominantly populated by the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities. The Musahar children of Saptari’s Shambhunath Municipality-7, 2, 3, and 5 have started going to school regularly.
The number of school-going age Dalit children is increasing following the conduction of free child tuition classes as part of the educational campaign launched by the Sripurraj Community Development Center (SCDC) targeting the children of the Harawacharawa families in the municipality. Three years ago, the number of school-going-age children from the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities was just 12.
The number has now shot up to over 300 after the SCDC launched an awareness campaign, organized parents meetings, and conducted free child classes under the project of ‘Empowerment of Harawacharawa through Social Mobilisation and Education’ with assistance from ‘The Freedom Fund’, an international non-profit organization, said Arjun Sada of the Harawacharawa Shambhunath Town Children Club. Until a few years ago, the children of these communities would spend their days in sports rather than studying. But they are gradually getting attracted to reading and writing following the conduction of free child classes.
“Until a few years ago, only a small number of children from the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities would attend classes. Now their number going to school is gradually increasing,” he said.
Parents in the communities were reluctant to send their children to school maybe because they lacked the importance of education, said Arahuliya Sada of Mohanpur, adding, “But now the children of the Musahar have started going to school. There is awareness among parents that their children should get an education.”
Recalling that although he wanted to study, his parents got him married in his childhood, he said, “Now, that situation is slowly disappearing.” The parents of the Harawacharawa and Musahar families are also gradually becoming responsible.
Now, more than 200 children from the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities are regularly attending the free child classes launched in various wards of the municipality, said Lalu Prasad Ram, program coordinator of the SCDC.
Of the attending children, 150 have been sent to various schools, he said. The SCDC has also provided educational materials and bags for free to the children enrolled in the school.
For the children who are out of school, three skilled teachers and a dozen volunteers have been deployed to provide a nine-month course of child education, and the children will gradually be taken to school, it has been said.
“One hundred and 50 children from Haruwacharawa families, who are doing well in primary education, have been admitted to local schools so far. Preparations are underway to enroll the remaining children,” said Bijali Ram, the SCDC facilitator.
Most of the children from the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities, who are struggling due to poverty and lack, have remained out of school, he said, adding, “We are taking initiatives to bring such children to school from the next academic season.”
Stating that the number of school-going age children from the Harawacharawa and Musahar communities, who are academically poor, is increasing, Gosai Paswan, head teacher of Baukidevi Dalit Basic School in Shambhunath-3, said such an enrolment campaign should intensively continue in the days to come.