LALITPUR, INDIA, 03 October 2018 - Kapasi in Lalitpur is home to Sahriya tribal community. The people here work as labourers. Struggling to make ends meet, education wasn’t a priority for them until a few years ago. But now, most of the families in the community send their children to government schools. All this is due to the School Management Committee (SMC) whose constant efforts have succeeded in bringing about a change in the mindsets of people.
The SMC is led by Pachiya, 40, a member of the same community who is herself illiterate. But following various training and awareness programmes carried out by social organisations, she has understood that only education can change the fate of the community. Pachiya along with other members of the SMC - Kusumabai, Chanda and Sukhwati, regularly visit the villagers and motivate them to get their children enrolled in school.
“We would take our children with us to the fields for work. But now, we have realised that if we do not educate our children, they wouldn’t have a better life,” says Kusumabai. While interacting with the people, the SMC members realised that the girls are not interested in attending school – a little probing revealed that there was no toilet in the school.
To ensure that girls also attend school, the SMC members met the village head and the school principal. Together they collected funds for building a toilet in the school and also made provision for clean drinking water for the students. Today, the SMC ensures that the school premises are clean and well maintained. Now, whenever the students face any problems, they contact the SMC which ensures a solution at the earliest.
School Management Committees have been set up in 160,000 schools across the state to encourage community ownership of the schools. The active involvement of SMC members is slowly turning around enrolment, regular attendance, quality of mid-day meals and learning achievements. UNICEF supports the capacity development of SMCs through innovative initiatives such as radio programmes and a monthly newspaper called ‘School Connection’ that helps in disseminating and sharing experiences among SMC members.