Orissa (India): education does not promote the mother tongue

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sun Jan 7 16:41:27 UTC 2007

Kids skip schools for lack of awareness: Survey

DHENKANAl : More than 4,156 children (aged between five and 13) of eight
blocks in the district are not going to schools. This has been detected by
a survey made by a team of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan recently.

According to official sources, out of 4156 children, 2038 are girls. Of
these girls, 603 belong to SC/ST-dominated Hindol block. When the
administration claims that Sarva Sikshaya Abhiyan (SSA) goes on in full
swing these children are deprived of basic education. The SSA has failed
to lure them to schools due to lack of awareness and motivation and
peoples participation in the national flagship programmes.

Sources said that 549 girls in Gandia block, 283 girls in Kankadahada, 184
in Kamakashya Nagar, 172 in Parjang, 139 in Sadar, 69 in Odapada and 39 in
Bhuban block are not attending schools.

According to grama panchayat officials and different village education
committee members, different reasons are responsible for their absence.
They are lack of awareness, motivation, poverty and distance to the school
from their homes. One VEC member, Kaibrata Sahoo, said that some children
refuse to attend schools as they have to cross reserve forest area.
Another resident of Kharmul tribal village said that they were poor and
cannot send their children to local school. No child of Kharmul village
continues education after Class-V. Nobody asked them about it and almost
all children in the village are dropouts after class III and V. Though the
local authorities know this, they have not taken any measures to check the
future of these children.

Villagers said that the children, who have seen schools, are engaged in
village industries, restaurants and help their parents at work places. One
villager, Raman ku Nayak, said he hesitated to send the children to local
schools as the school education does not promote their mother tongue
(tribal language). There is no vocational education in school which can
help the children share labour with others. On the other hand, though
children work at shops, restaurants and local village industries, the
labour dept has no survey report about their plight.

According to officials at the district labour office, the department had
made survey about child labour in 1997 in 6104 establishments (hazardous
and non-hazardous) and found cases. However, no survey has been carried
out after 1997 even after the introduction of child labour Act.

District labour officer Mr PK Baliasingh said they did not have official
report about child labour, though they have heard allegations of children
working in hazardous units and different shops.

An organisation, which promotes democratic awareness, has urged the
authorities to launch massive awareness in rural areas and motivate
children to go to schools. It has also demanded special schools under
NCLRP. It has also demanded the opening of Earl Child Care units in the
tribal-dominated Hindol and Kankadahada blocks surrounded by dense forests
to lure children to the units before sending them to schools.

When contacted, district project coordinator of SSA Mr Gangadhar Sahoo
said the number of school dropouts is low compared to other districts. SSA
district unit is making efforts to open special schools under SSA for the
physically-challenged children shortly with cooperation of an NGO.



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