November 2007, Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh: With 85 percent tribal population, a large number of children in Jhabua district, who move with their parents in their search for work, end up missing education altogether.
The tribal families migrate chiefly in search of livelihood, mainly to the more prosperous western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
In a groundbreaking initiative, the Jhabua district administration with support from UNICEF and a local NGO, Lok Vikas Evam Anusandhan Trust, launched 22 “mobile schools” in Bhabra block of Jhabua aimed at bringing learning and education to these children.
The mobile schools are established in tents at the place where the migrant families set up their temporary home. These tents will remain in place for the duration of the migrants stay at their temporary abodes and serve as a school. The tents will be taken down when the migrants move back to their original habitat.
The mobile schools, housed in tents, have all the basic requirements of a normal school.
The first phase of 22 mobile schools will target approximately 650 children who migrate with their parents to Gujarat every year.
The plan is to scale up to 100 such schools by the end of 2008.
Mr. R.K. Pathak, District Collector, Jhabua said he was happy with the initiative and added that an evaluation will be conducted in the first quarter of 2008 to assess the impact and see how to take it forward.
Dr. Hamid El Bashir, UNICEF State Representative for Madhya Pradesh hoped this would provide a basis for scaling up at other areas too. “This initiative, with the help of the district administration and Lok Vikas Evam Anusandhan Trust, will help retain in school, children who otherwise drop out due to the movement of their families” he said.
The components provided by UNICEF include the school tent, teaching-learning materials, school materials and training and salary for the teachers.
Lok Vikas Evam Anusandhan Trust provided the teachers and with support from UNICEF will collaborate in the monitoring and evaluation process.