AREA/LOCATION OF THE PROJECT
The project was implemented in villages Damalbari, Chhattergach, Powakhali, Thakurganj and Pothia in Kishanganj district.
The main aim of the project was to provide education to rural children in the age group 6-14 in 5 villages who are out of any formal school system or are school dropouts through nonformal means. AIF began with the identification of the children residing in these villages and also nearby areas. Our main target was to encourage more girls to join the NFE schools as their education is generally neglected and look down upon.
We followed formal as well as nonformal system of education in all the schools. Children were enrolled in classes one to three. They were given choice to join the formal setup or study according to their convenience in the afternoon. The schools have fixed timings for the formal students and flexible timings for the nonformal students.
The teachers ensure at least six hours of study six days a week. Since we have accreditation from National Open Schooling Ministry of HRD, Government of India to conduct examination for class three, class five and class eight levels it helped us in convincing parents to send children to our schools. We followed the curriculum and books prepared on the basis of blueprints provided by NOS and Bihar Govt syllabus. We tried to keep the course at par with any formal school. Our main concern was to develop the capacity of children preparing them for formal schooling in the future.
The course was divided into 4 modules. The first three months were devoted to teaching basics in language and mathematics. In the next three months we introduced writing skills and subsequently other subjects like EVS and art of healthy and productive living were introduced. We also tried to identify talent among the children like music, dance and drawing/painting. The books were provided free of cost. The teachers were selected from educated youth of the community to provide employment to local youth especially women. We charged nominal fees from the students to make it self-sustaining in the long run.
CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
Azad India Foundation organized regular trainings and orientations for the teachers by the resource person by Mr.Shamim Akhtar who is TLC trainer.
Kishanganj district has a dubious record of having lowest literacy level in whole of Bihar. The worst sufferers are the women who due to illiteracy and ignorance face exploitation at all levels.Azad India Foundation has set up nonformal centres in target villages where women and girls come for functional literacy classes. The main purpose of setting these centres was to promote education among the guardians of the children.
The method of teaching was non-formal involving local dialect Surjapuri and in some centers in Bengali/Hindi to help the women learn effectively .In these centers women were taught to read and write at their own pace. Some centers functioned in the afternoon after women finish their household work and some in the evening when they return from their fields. The involvement of the community ensured smooth functioning of these centers and made the teachers accountable to the task they have undertaken.
Azad India Foundation believes that education is true means of socio-economic and intellectual advancement of the society. Every child at least deserves primary education irrespective of caste, religion or socio-economic background. We enrolled 449 children for OBE Level -A examination. These children were in the age-group 6-14 years. Out of these 236 were boys and 213 were girls. Our sustained efforts have led to about 47% of girls' and 52 % boys' enrollment in the schools.
Many young children also attend the school. We conducted the examination in the month of July/August and the result is submitted to National Open School for certificates. The girls did better in the examination as 50.7% passed in first attempt where as 49% boys passed the examination in the first attempt. The students who have failed or partly cleared papers will be motivated to give exam again after six months. Their registration is valid is five years where they can clear papers according to their convenience.
A detailed result of the students as follows :
Total number of students enrolled : 449
Total number of male students: 236
Total number of female students: 213
Total number of students passed : 201
Total number of female students passed: 102
Total number of male students passed : 99
Total number of part pass students: 21
Total number of failed students :149
Total number of absent students: 78
SPECIAL DAY CELEBRATIONS:
Azad India Foundation celebrated special days like Republic Day (26th January) and Independence Day (15th August) at all the schools instilling a sense of national pride and teaching children importance of these days.
We also organized drawing and sports competitions for the children regularly. The winners were given prizes and certificates. Parents and other important people including PRIs of the villages were included in all the programmes.
The project coordinator and field workers of AIF carried out regular meetings with the parents, guardians and important persons of the community from time to time. These meetings are very important for building enabling environment for generating interest in education.
It also helped us in the centers where there was high dropout of the girls and reluctance and apathy of the parents towards our project. AIF also organized film shows 'Meena ki Kahani' which deals with issues concerning education for girls and gender issues in the target villages.
VISITORS TO THE RURAL SCHOOLS
Ms Tinku Khanna,Ms Janki and Mr Kalam from Aapne Aap Women International an NGO working in Calcutta and Forbesganj visited Thakurganj and Chattargach rural schools on 23rd December. The children welcomed them with a song and displayed their learning skills. They were impressed with the progress of the children especially the girls. The main objective of their visit was to replicate the same programme in their intervention area.
Azad India Foundation hosted Mr Alvise Fabretto a volunteer from Italy. He visited all the rural schools. Sports Day was celebrated at rural school at Pothia on 26th Janaury where 60 children participated from the two villages. They presented a small cultural programme.The winners were given prizes by Mrs Yuman Hussain and Mr Alvise Fabretto. UNESCO and National Open School (Ministry of HRD) conducted survey for the relevance and efficacy of Open Basic Education in 5 NGOs in India. Rural Schools of Azad India Foundation were chosen from Bihar where an independent agency carried out survey and interaction with 100 students in the month of July. The final report is awaited.