Enroute to education, meeting health and nutritional needs through Musahar child education programme

Albert Einstein said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”. This quote stands true if we need to change the situation of underprivileged, downtrodden and discriminated community of Musahars.

Caritas India reached the target areas with programme ‘Roshini’ (meaning light) focusing early childhood education reaching the elementary level; life skill development, and vocational education of Musahar children in the state of Bihar. Covering 4 districts, 5 blocks, 42 tolas (hamlets) and 40 schools, the intervention was conceptualized to facilitate regular school going and study habits among the Musahar children falling in the age bracket of 6-14 years.

Musahars are positioned on the lowest rung of already marginalised Dalit community, and face historic exploitation resulting in extreme socio-economic and political deprivation. They have the lowest literacy rate among the Dalits at 6.88 per cent, followed by the lowest for women at 1.43 per cent (Census 2011). Attendance rate falls to 10% at the secondary school level.

Roshni interventions improved access to quality education by enabling enrollment of 82% Musahar children in the school, and ensuring entitlements under Right to Education Act were realized to support their education. The attendance rate is also raised to 64% among the enrolled children, together with facilitating active participation of 56% parents in the school management committees. After the intervention, 69% Musahar children had availed the benefits from various government schemes. Around 65% community members have identified and raised their concern during the Gram Sabhas (of Mata Samiti).

Recently, Roshini partners were involved in the process of capacity building on nutritional aspect in the community along with project orientation. The programme covered knowledge and scientific understanding of malnutrition with information of various government schemes.

The three day programme at Prabhat Sakri, Bihar, from 21 May to 2 June, 2017, discussed the nutritional tools and methodology for the scoping study on malnutrition aiming Musahar children to be kick started this month. The concept of RTE with integrated nutritional provisions was explained along with its implementation strategy; together with multi grade learning for clear understanding and smooth implementation.