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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-68: SAROJAMMA – EDUCATE CHILDREN FOR A BETTER TOMORROW!

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Most families in Halaharvi village in Halaharvi mandal of Kurnool district depend on agriculture.  Though they sent their children to school they withdrew them when they reached the second or third standard and sent them to graze livestock or do other agriculture related work.  As a result, about 70% of the children had a minimal education and turned into agricultural labourers. Another 20% of the children dropped out of school without completing the tenth standard and could not find employment because
they were neither educated nor had they learnt a skill. Only 10% carried on studying till intermediate or graduation. The women believed that education would alter this situation.

Before APRLP watershed programme started, there were ten self-help groups in the village.  With APRLP, fifty self-help groups were formed and federated into a village organisation.  The women who joined these groups became aware of social issues like the need for old age pensions, giving support to the physically handicapped and organising medical camps, by interacting with officials and NGOs who came
to strengthen, support and provide training to their groups, by attending meetings and through discussions. At that stage members of the village organisation took up a unique programme to ensure that those who had become animal grazers or agricultural labourers without any education got some basic education.

To begin with they conducted a survey of all school dropouts in the village. Then they counseled the parents of those children on the benefits of education. While one or two listened to them, most of the parents refused to send their children to school. The village organisation announced that those members who did not send their children to school would not be eligible for loans. This encouraged some reluctant families to send their children to school. But soon the people began to understand what the village organisation was trying to do. They voluntarily started sending their children to school.

The village school in Halaharvi ended at the seventh standard, so the villagers ended the children’s education at the secondary school because they thought that high school would be too expensive. The village organisation members met and apprised the officials of Nandanavanam Hostel near Halaharvi mandal of the problem.  Once the officials agreed to help them, 24 children were admitted to the Hostel. These children came home during the vacations and talked to the others in the village about the facilities and experiences. As a result another 20 children joined the Hostel in the eighth standard. Members of the village organisation make it a point to call on these students to enquire about their well-being and distribute chocolates and give them anything that they need. The children even request these members,
rather than their own parents, to come to see them. The members of the village organisation are striving to ensure that there will be no uneducated children in the village in the future.

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