Posted by MV Foundation Team, Bihar
“Three months ago, I worked during sowing and harvesting of tobacco, wheat and maize. My earning would be around Rs 150 per day. I gave up studies 2 years ago to work in the fields. With lockdown, I had no job and would go along with my mother to cut fodder for the buffaloes. But now, with Rinki didi teaching us I am very happy. After lockdown I have decided to continue with school.” says Savitri Kumari of Lalganj block, district Vaishali.
During the lockdown, Savitri and many children like her have changed. Today, they want to go back to school. This has happened through remedial classes in 66 centres set up in Bihar by MV Foundation. MVF works for children’s education and rights. It has been working in the state since 2007, mainly in five districts – Vaishali, Jamui, East Champaran, Rohtas and Sheohar.
In pre-lockdown era, often parents pushed their children into agricultural labour. With lockdown all schools closed, and more children became easy target for cheap labour.
As part of its lockdown work, MVF activists, accompanied by Asha workers and local youth, got in touch with families. They encouraged the parents to take care of their family’s health. The team advised everyone to wear masks and wash hands. During these visits, parents mentioned that their children were just wandering and requested MVF to intervene.
The MV Foundation programme team also realised that children could not be left to work or get exposed to the pandemic. They decided to organise short term remedial classes for them in 54 villages. It was not an easy task to begin with.
- In spite of the Govt. order to stop schools, teaching the children in a group.
- Convincing the parents to send their children to the remedial class.
- Getting both school going and non-school going children to the class on time.
- Convincing Gram Panchayat (GP) members and social workers to allow classes.
- Choosing an appropriate place for the remedial class.
- Convincing village youth and Child Right Protection Forum (CRPF) members to help.
- Going against the Govt. norm to create a group without identity cards.
- Arranging study material for the children.
“When we spoke to our GP members, they told us – why are you going against Govt. norms?. We told the GP that we are working to ensure children’s education is not hampered. We need your support. We convinced them that we will follow all the safe practices of lockdown. Initially we did not have enough copies and pens. The Panchayat gave us a set of 40 copies and pens. The children and the parents were happy.” – Priyanka Kumari of MVF Team.
5. Washing hands before and after class
6. Following social distancing and using masks
The remedial classes for children began in the month of April. All these centres were created in mahadalit tolas. Classes were organised in school buildings and in some cases around tree shades. A distance of 3 feet was maintained between the students. In 40 villages, local youth along with Child Rights Protection Forum members offered to teach the children and plan games. In the remaining centres, MVF volunteers took classes.
With limited internet connectivity, MVF informed parents about morning classes aired on Doordarshan. They are keeping a detailed track of students who are attending these classes. For eg. in Lalganj block in Vaishali district there are only 968 TV sets in 5038 households. Collective viewing is a common practice.
MV Foundation’s initiative has turned a new leaf in the lives of close to 1500 children in Bihar. It has also made the parents happy that their child is taking small steps toward a life that will be much better than theirs.
“With lockdown, the children don’t go to school. Thankfully, one teacher comes from MV Foundation to teach from 8 – 9 am. From 9 – 10 am there are classes on television. Then, again in the evening, she teaches 4 pm onwards. Nobody else comes to check what is happening to the children. If the madam wouldn’t have come, the children would have gone astray.” – A Mother from the village Rasulpur, Shadullahpur panchayat, Vaishali district.
Other stories from MV Foundation: Summer camp
Cover image : Team LV
Story images : MV Foundation
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