Lakdatona Tola of Kobja Panchayat is situated approximately 25 km from Raidih block of Gumla district in Jharkhand. The Panchayat has a total of 13 schools and anganwadis. It is these educational institutions where most of the children of the panchayat study. Almost all of these schools lack in some or the other basic facilities such as toilets and boundary walls. The teachers in many schools are not punctual in the schools and the community, which is poor and dependant on agriculture and daily wage labor work for its livelihood, is mostly unaware of its rights for education.
When Prajayatna started working in the area, it held orientation meeting with the Kobja Gram Sangathan and told its member didis of their rights in the field of education. Shobha didi, who is a member of this Gram Sangathan and whose children study in the local schools, became Education Change Vector didi from her Gram Sangathan. She says that she was exited to hear about the possibilities of improving the educational situation of her area through community participation and wanted to play an active role in this.
She participated in the three day long residential ECV training organized in November 2017 in which she came to know in detail the structure of the education department, concept of School Management Committees (including its roles and responsibilities) and the idea of community led school development. After this training, Shobha didi has regularly raised issues related to education and schools in the weekly meetings of her SHG and also in monthly meetings of her Gram Sangathan. Through these meetings, she has been instrumental in raising the awareness regarding education in her community and has started meeting teachers of the schools, requesting them to teach properly. She has also been instrumental getting a few SMC meetings organized in the schools.
After she raised school issues in her Gram Sangathan meetings, it was decided that a few chart papers depicting the rights and responsibilities of the community in schools will be permanently displayed in the Sangathan’s local office.
One of the problems in Jharkhand is that many schools don’t have adequate number of schools because of which a number of them are going to be merged with some other school. PS Lakdatona is one such school. It has only 17 children enrolled in it and has a single teacher Anita Kujur who teaches these children. The school is located right in the middle of the forest and is highly inaccessible. If this school gets merged, it will cause problem for the children as they will have literally cross forests and hills to reach the next nearest school. Shobha didi has held meetings with the local community members and has made them aware of the problem and is exhorting them to come together and write an application to the Block Education Officer requesting him not to merge this school.
She also organized Sikho Sikhao in this school with the help of Prajayatna in the April 2018. The idea was not only to make community members interested in the education of their children but also to draw their attention to the problem of the school getting merged. There were a total of 32 participants in the activity.
Shobha didi sees her role as an ECV as extremely important for changing the educational conditions of her Panchayat and says that she is going to give it her all for improving the conditions of these schools.