With a population of 103.8 million in 2011, Bihar is the third most populous state in India (Census 2011). In 2018, Bihar’s population is estimated to be about 122.0 million. The density of population in Bihar (1106 persons per sq. km) is nearly three times higher than in India (382 persons per sq. km). As per the estimation of Census 2011, approximately 39% of India’s population lies in the age bracket of 0-18 years. But for Bihar, 48% of the population lies in the age group of 0-18 years. The state accounts for 11% of India’s total child population. The state is home to 4.98 crore children, of which 4.47 crore (89.9%) reside in rural areas and 0.50 crore (10.1 percent) live in urban areas.
During 2012-13 to 2016-17, total enrolment in elementary classes has increased at an annual rate of 2.3 percent, from 214.87 lakh in 2012-13 to 235.64 lakh in 2016-17. At the primary level, the dropout rate recorded a decrease of 9.5 percentage points between 2012-13 (31.7%) and 2016-17 (22.2%). Overall, the gender gap in elementary education is decreasing gradually, as the growth rate of enrolment of girls was 2.3 percent during 2012-13 to 2016-17, compared to 2.2 percent for boys.
Despite these figures, the fact remains that the most disadvantaged sections of the society have lagged behind due to lack of necessary motivational and social interventions that should have been converged with the above situation. The quality of education is another lamentable point which has, on several occasions, assessed to be being at the bottom level.
1.2 Socio-economic situation in Jamui District
Jamui District, one of the most under developed districts of Bihar, is located adjacent to neighbor Jharkhand state with its administrative headquarters located at Jamui city. According to 2011 census, the district encompasses a geographical area of 2494 sq km and has a population of 17,60,405 (persons) including 9,16,064 (males) and 8,44,341 (females). The district has a sex ratio of 922 (females for every 1000 males. The major religions in the district are Hindu (86.67%) and Muslim (12.36%) of the total population respectively. The literacy rate in the district is 59.79% (persons), 71.24% (males) and 47.28% (females). Main spoken languages are Hindi (89.43%), Urdu (6.81%) and Santali (3.66%). Labour Force Participation Rate is 33.98%. Main source of income in the district is from the agriculture sector and per capita income is Rs. 15033. Total cropped area is 1,50,445 in hectares and the forest area is 641 in sq km (2017).
The peculiar characteristics of the district include infestation of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and high concentration of ‘Musahar’ community. As per Census 2011, Musahars population in Jamui district is 104,852, i.e 6% of the district’s total population. Among the dalit communities, the position of Musahars is particularly worse as they are placed lowest among all scheduled castes in India. Even among the Dalits, they are called maha dalits. They are the most disadvantaged groups and are the poorest of the poor. Despite continuous effort to universalize Education in India, the most deprived Musahar children of Bihar still are ignored and held responsible for their Educational backwardness. Out of twenty three Scheduled Caste in Bihar, Musahars are the third highly populous after Chamars and Dusads. But their literacy level is lowest among all dalits, i.e. just 6% (Census of India, 2011). They are held responsible for their educational backwardness and negatively portrayed in most literatures. It is widely believed that they are unable to understand the relevance of education, mentally not accustomed to school work, seen as attending schools only for midday meals, disinterested in formal schooling and slipped into a culture of silence. Apart from this some other factors such as, the indifferent attitude of parents to educate (particularly female child), poverty, unawareness, and early marriage are also held accountable for their educational backwardness.
Nearly 78% of Musahar population in 2011 is completely illiterate – as defined by the Census. Females of Musahar remain mostly illiterate. Many factors contribute to low level of literacy such as due to poor economic conditions, most of them cannot afford to send their children to school, those who do enter school often drop out of school system at an early age on account of either untouchability at school environment or have to take care of young children in the family and or to contribute to family income. Field monitoring data reveals that nearly 63% of Musahar households migrate out to distant cities for about six months of a year for searching of daily labour. This results in forcible dropout of school children.
1.3 The Musahars in our area
Our working area extends over four blocks namely Barhat, Jamui Sadar, Jhajha and Khaira which house nearly 52% of the district’s total Musahar population. Total Musahar population of the proposed blocks is 55,000. However, Musahar population of the project villages constitutes 9,954 persons belonging to 1,991 households. Children population in the age group of 0-18 years and 6-14 years are respectively 6,530 and 3,564. As Musahar community is still devoid of education, the female literacy rate is hardly 5%, while the male literacy rate is about 9% in the target blocks. No student in the Musahar community had passed even an Inter previously. The parents usually go out for labor work and the elder children, specially the girls, are compelled to tend to smaller siblings or accompany their parents for labor work. The parents in this community, by tradition, do not attach any importance to education. Since they fail to find round-the-year employment opportunity locally, 70% of them tend to migrate with their family to distant locations to work often in hazardous and exploitative jobs. Usually, the whole family is engaged there in work including the children who become victims of child labour in an early age.
This community inhabits on the Government land, by the side of roads, canals or ponds, away from the village and they usually construct a single roomed shack in which they all live with their animals and household items. The children do not find a place to study in. This situation puts the Musahar children away from education who spend their time either in picking leaves and twigs for oven fuel or graze household animals or just while away it in play. The children who are somehow enrolled in schools usually dropout early as the dropout rate is as high as 70%. Mostly, they are rendered very weak in studies and hence suffer from an intense inferiority complex.
Though, government has specially opened primary schools in the Musahar hamlets, this step has failed to make any tangible difference except that the children are now enrolled in these schools to receive the mid day meals and provide the ground for the teachers to keep their posts in the school. The teachers and schools have been highly irregular, least to speak of the quality of education and the motivation level among the children. Being devoid of education for years and due to lack of dignified access to formal education system, Musahar children have generated a feeling of incompetency and inferiority in their minds. In July 2018, a survey was conducted from Mahadalit students studying in different classes of school for their knowledge of subjects and availability of study books to them and the result was quite on the lines explained above.
This community has failed, as yet, to join the mainstream of the societal or the developmental processes and lives still, in the age-ole secluded way at a corner of the village, in their separate hamlets, that have become the epitome of filth, malnourishment, lack of education and a great load of morbidity and mortalities.
The government functionaries, hailing largely from the non-dalit sections, avoid treading in the Musahar hamlets – called Musahari in local parlance – and this is why this community has largely remained unreached by the developmental schemes and activities run by the Central and State governments. The very first manifestation of this apathy reflects in the education level of this community which is still abysmal despite so many campaigns and schemes for the education extension to eliminate illiteracy and non-enrolment.
Before our intervention in these areas, no student in the Musahar communities in our areas has done even an Inter. The parents usually go out for labor work and the elder children, specially the girls, are compelled to tend smaller siblings or accompany their parents for labor work. The parents do not attach any importance to education. Since they fail to find round-the-year employment opportunity locally, 70% of them tend to migrate with their family to distant locations to work often in hazardous and exploitative jobs. Usually, the whole family is engaged there in work including the children who become victims of child labour in an early age.
This community habitats on the Government land, by roads, canals or ponds, away from the village and they usually construct a single roomed shack in which they all live with their animals and household items. The children do not find a place to study in. This situation puts the Musahar children away from education who spend their time either in picking leaves and twigs for oven fuel or graze household animals or just while away their time in play. The children who are somehow enrolled in schools suffer from a high dropout rate usually as high as 40%. Mostly, they are rendered very weak in studies and hence suffer from an inferiority complex.
The Gaps to Be Addressed
In July 2018, we conducted a survey of Mahadalit students studying in different classes of school for their knowledge of subjects and availability of study books to them and the result was quite on the lines explained above. The data obtained from the survey is given in the table below which is a tell tale story about the situation.
Class Wise Education Status of School Going Mahadalit (Musahar) Children
Survey by Samagra Seva Team Members during First Week of July 2018
|Class||No. of Children Surveyed||No Knowledge of Hindi||No Knowledge of Maths||No Knowledge of English||No books available to students|
Our Work among Musahar Communities & Children
It is in this community, that Samagra Seva has been successfully lighting the lamp of education which is a unique feat that have so far succeeded in doing. This has been possible only due to the very hard work of our workers who have, by their diligent and integrity over the years successfully won the confidence of the Musahar communities they work with. This is no ordinary success and hence we remain desirous to continue this effort to reach it a goal distinct enough to present as a model for all to replicate, the implementers and the funders alike.
Running Cultural Education Centers for Musahar children
Our most successful intervention in this direction has been running of the Cultural Education Centres (CECs) which is basically a centre for non-formal education imparted to the children of this community through games, songs etc. to make the process as entertaining and engaging as possible. Every such centre is assigned to a teacher which is either from the same community or from outside, if no suitable candidate is available within the community. The teacher is, first, provided an intensive training in the methodology of running this centre which has been perfected on the basis of our long years of work in this direction.
These centres are, usually, run from 7.00am to 9.00am or at some different time agreed upon the consent of the children and their parents which may suit to them as per the seasonal variations and their engagement profile. These centres, in a way, work as bridges to the formal education system that facilitates their smooth entry and retention therein. We strive to link these students to the local school as soon as possible as per their preparedness for it while assuring full support through the CEC. In the meanwhile, we continue with our other allied interventions in the same community as awareness generation among it for education, nutrition, general health, sanitation and cleanliness, etc. with a result that the community, families and parents get adequately motivated to send their children to school regularly. This then helps in keeping the children attached to the school and parents motivated to make the most of this free facility. At present, we are running 10 CECs in which about 300 Musahar children are being educated.
A simultaneous intervention of ours is bringing improvement in the quality of education imparted at school through community and the PRI (Panchayati Raj Institutions) (the local self government at village and higher levels) representatives while also striving for improving the physical infrastructure of the school. We, over a time, have invariably succeeded in improving the same everywhere we have worked.
The twin interventions have produced splendid results. Today we boast of producing 30 children from these CECs who appeared in the matriculation examination and 25 of them passed it with good marks. Many of these passed out children are striving at the still higher echelons of education like inter and bachelor degrees.
Hence, we wish to scale up this intervention and run 50 CECs to the adjoining backward areas (under Jamui, Giddhaur, Barhat and Jhajha blocks) of this backward district of Bihar.
Mission Bal Poshan-Phase- I (14 to 20 November, 2017)
To strengthen the above referred collaboration, the organization with the cooperation from ICDS, Health Department and CRY, conducted Mission Bal Poshan (Nutrition Awareness-cum-Demonstration Program) at 27 AWCs in Jamui District between 14 to 20 November, 2017. Under this program, the pregnant mothers and nursing mothers were identified first. In every village, a Nutrition Advisory Group was constituted comprising an wise woman of the village, ASHA, AWW and Jeevika group women. With them, the Organizational workers visited these identified mothers by going door to door and informed them through IPC about nutrition and the appropriate care of children, breast feeding and the importance of institutional delivery , infant young child feeding etc.
The Samagra Seva workers wrote nutrition slogans on the village walls and through organizing a Nutrition Meeting at the AWC between 12pm to 3 pm with the above beneficiaries of the village, made them aware about preparing the locally available nutritious material, preparing local nutritious food, nutritional Sattu, etc., with locally available material. About 750 women were benefited by these activities and 25 severally malnourished children were sent to NRC while 09 ill newly born children were sent to SNCU. Particularly, the Dalit community women got excited to get their children weighed and, later, they started demanding that their children be weighed at the local AWC regularly.
Mission Bal Poshan-Phase II (20 May to 23 June 2018)
Being encouraged by the success of Mission Bal Poshan, Samagra Seva, with the assistance of 15 of its workers as well as the Panchayati Raj Representatives, is organizing from 20 May to 23 June 2018, Mission Bal Poshan Phase II by holding Health, Nutrition & Demonstration awareness sessions through IPC, Flip Charts, videos, etc., for the maternal, infant and young child nutrition with the support of ICDS, Health Department and CRY in which we are touching various useful topics like proper diet, exclusive breastfeeding , proper living, cleanliness, locally available nutritious material, 4 ANC during pregnancy, complicated pregnancy, health check up by MBBS dr. by PSMA Benefit of instructional delivery and immunization , behavior change and additional feeding to the child after six-month age.
We solicit your guidance and assistance for the betterment of this program.