Collective Efforts Lead to Re-opening of Child Labour Schools in Chittorgarh One meeting with DNGO members and media persons was organised at CHD on November 30, 2009, to build common understanding on the issue of closure of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) schools in Chittorgarh and decide an action plan by involvement of the media, CSOs and funding agencies. In this meeting, Rajiv Nagpal (Programme Officer SCBR); Kumar Bikram, District Facilitator Unicef; Mukesh Sharma, District Support Officer UNDP; Dinesh Joshi, President DNGO forum; and representatives of CSOs and media were present. It was deliberated that, on the one hand, the government has passed the ‘Right to Education’ Bill to ensure free and compulsory education to all the children up to the age of 14 years, but, ot the other hand, it has decided to close down the 37 NCLP schools in Chittorgarh due to shortage of funds. This clearly reflects that these hard to reach and vulnerable children are not in the priority of the Government. A press release was issued in this regard and it was decided to take up this issue at various levels, starting from Chittorgarh.
‘Samvaad’ against closure of NCLP schools in Chittorgarh was organised under the banner of DNGO forum at Hotel Shri Ji on December 8, 2009. In this event, Biswa Ranjan Patnaik (State Programme Manager SC-BR), Malay Kumar (State Co-ordinator for Advocacy and Child Protection, Campaign Against Child Labour, Rajasthan and Director Prayatn, Jaipur), Rajiv Nagpal (Programme Officer SC-BR), Sajjan Singh (Deputy Commissioner Labour Department Chittorgarh), B.L. Sisodia (Senior Advocate), Narbada Bhambi (Additional District Education Officer Elementary), Chandrakanta Tripathi (Additional District Education Officer Secondary), representatives of about 30 NGOs from Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Tonk, Kota and Pratapgarh, electronic and print media representatives, child labours and their parents participated. The participants raised their voice against the sudden closure of NCLP schools and demanded their opening with immediate effect. Sajjan Singh assured them that the NCLP schools will be opened very soon. Due to collective voice of stakeholders and mounting pressure on district administration, all the NCLP schools have re-opened from January 03, 2010.
One of SHGs of Chamanpura village became the role model for other SHGs in Chittorgarh and Bhilwara districts. Chamanpura village is 20 km from the Bhilwara district headquarter. With the sustained efforts of CUTS representatives, Jawala Mahila SHG came into being on June 15, 2006, in which there were 11 members. Slowly and steadily, a close relationship was built among the women members because of regular meetings of the group, and on September 18, 2006, the first loan of Rs 20,000 from the bank was disbursed among them.
One of the members was Reshma whose husband used to be a truck driver, and is now staying at home due to illness. As the family was struggling for their livelihood, Reshma decided to join the labour work to earn for her family. The other member of the group suggested her to start her own enterprise. With regular interaction with other members of the group and CUTS field workers, her mind changed and she decided to start the poultry business on September 18, 2006, she got a loan of Rs 4500 from her group and started her business. Her husband supported her, which gave her the required moral strength. She worked hard and paid back the first loan. She applied for another loan and bought a sewing machine. Right now she possesses two business of her own and earning a decent amount to support her family. She has become a role model for other members of Jawala Mahila SHG.
Ghagsa is one of the villages of Devri Panchayat of Chittorgarh district, Rajasthan under IQEE project, which is approximately 15 kilometers from CUTS-CHD office. The population of this village comprises mainly of the Bheel, Dangi and Lohar caste. Durga, president of Bal Panchyat is a student of standard 5th in the Government Primary School of the village. She attends Bal Panchayat meetings regularly and actively participates in the debates and discussions held thereof. She has one elder brother. The main source of income of the family is agriculture. One day, she informed Ms. Nitu Joshi, Field Coordinator of CUTS-CHD that her parents are under immense pressure of the Lohar community to get her married as she is now 12 years old. Durga was firm that she wished to continue her studies and not get married. The day when a boy’s family had come to see her, she wrote a letter for her parents expressing her desire to continue her studies and create some identity of her own. At the same time she also wrote that still if her parents go against her will, she will revolt against them. She narrated the incident to some of her Bal Panchayat friends. Nitu decided to help her and thus talked to her parents. Nitu explained her parents about the physical and psychological impact of child marriage on a child. Nitu succeeded in convincing her mother. Nitu then talked with the community leaders and discussed the matter but failed to convince them. Nitu then quoted about provision of punishment under the Sharda Act for supporting child marriage. Slowly some community members withdrew their stand. Though her father succumbed to the pressure but is still angry. However, her mother is firmly supporting her. Durga’ ordeal against child marriage was also aired on the All India Radio. Durga is enjoying her studies and at the same time is a source of inspiration for other young girls and women of the village. She has decided to continue her study and will help other girls to continue their studies and protest against child marriage.
Village Shehnava is located 12 kilometers from the Chittorgarh town. Jaat, Bheel, Vaishnav and Gariya are the major communities residing in the village. Raju Salvi, an eleven year old boy of the village, studying in 7th class in Government Secondary School, is a member of the Bal Sabha. He belongs to a farmer’s family. After studies, Raju takes his goats out for grazing. He attends regular meetings of Bal Sabha in which information are given on health, education and other issues. Before attending the Bal Sabha meeting, Raju was addicted to chewing tobacco (Gutkha). The Bal Panchayat members once noticed his addiction. The Bal Sabha members decided to help Raju give up consuming tobacco. Few of Raju’s friends talked with him personally and explained him about ill-effects of consuming tobacco. His friends also took up the issue in the Bal Panchayat meetings. Once convinced, Raju decided to give up consuming tobacco. Initially, he reduced his intake and after sometime, completely gave up consuming tobacco. Raju took pledge for not consuming tobacco during a function in the village. He is now happy and leaving a healthy life. He has decided not to consume tobacco in his life and to motivate other children to give up tobacco consumption and smoking. He shares his experience with his seniors and other fellow colleagues in his school as well.
Bojunda is the one of villages of Sehnava Panchayat of Chittorgarh district, Rajasthan under IQEE project, which is approx. 5 km from the CUTS-CHD office. Nine years old girl Anita Prajapat who is the member of the Bal Panchayat lives in the village. Anita’s father Kalu Lal Prajapat is a farmer. Anita’s one leg was amputated when she met with an accident a year ago. Her parents and relatives lost hope on her. As they concluded that no one will marry a disable girl, they started considering her as burden for the family. Family members always used to de-motivate her by saying that education will be of no use to her as she is disabled and no one will marry her. They also taunted at her that even good education won’t help her to get a good job. Anita started loosing her confidence. She failed to concentrate in her studies, thus loosing interest in studies. Slowly Anita became irregular to school. This issue came to the notice of the Bal Panchyat. In the next meeting it was decided to invite her to become a member of the Bal Panchayat, which she readily accepted. The members behaved with her as they behave with their other friends and did not discriminate with her. They involved her in games. Through songs and stories, they raised her confidence. With the support from the members of the Bal Panchayat, she slowly started to realize her self worth. She started getting back her confidence and started concentrating in her studies. She started attending schools regularly. CUTS staff talked with her family members and made them belief that she is a normal girl like any other girl and requested her to support her for her education. She has now good number of friends and her family members also motivate her for her studies. CUTS staff has also requested District Head of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (S.S.A.) to provide artificial leg to her. The District Head has assured to arrange artificial leg for her. Anita has become motivation for other children. Villagers know her very well and support her in all her work.