Koraput, Orissa, April 2008: Kamlu Chalan, Babuli Bhatra, Soudamini Dhanful and Sudharani Dhanful are just some of the children who wanted to go back to school at Bandaguda village in Kotpad block, after participating in the fair organised to showcase different aspects of education.
However this was only one among many similar wins to cheer about in Kotpad especially after being selected to become the only block in the district to launch ‘Srujan’, a special scheme under the government’s universal elementary education programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the District Primary Education Project (DPEP).
Srujan is a community-based approach to fostering education in Orissa’s substantial tribal areas. The objective of the programme is to link community knowledge and practices with the school curriculum, both in the context of curricular as well as extra- curricular activities.
Some of the traditional activities that are adopted in Srujan are:
“The environment in the school and out in the village was not drastically different for the children under this programme” observed Laxmi Bhatra, a parent and the president of Mother Teacher Association (MTA) of the primary school at Girla in Kotpad block.
This prompted the children who were interested to play their own games, dance their traditional dances and play their own instruments to be in school as they discovered the joy of integrating them with the learning atmosphere inside the school with the other children, she adds.
Items prepared by the children
Tribals and other inhabitants in rural Koraput have used indigenous materials suitable to their local conditions and environment for years. But with new and modern equipment becoming available, many traditional items like Tarla (a traditional rain coat prepared using leaves), Chatudi (traditional umbrella prepared made of bamboo and leaves), Dandar (a device used to catch fish), Dhunti (the container to store fish) are in danger of disappearing.
Srujan has brought this traditional knowledge into the school environment and their exhibition and display has created enormous zeal among the children to remember their past and move into the future with pride.
Anjalirani Haldar, the spirited headmistress of Ex-Board Primary School at Chandili on the boarders of Chhattisgarh and Orissa, is overjoyed that Srujan had brought back tribal children from across the border.
In 2007-08, a total of 97 blocks with more than 50 percent tribal population were identified and Srujan programmes conducted. Since its launch in July 2007,161 schools have successfully run the scheme.
Looking at the successful results emerging from Kotpad, it is now planned to replicate the process in the rest of the 13 blocks of Koraput district so as to ensure re-admission of the drop-out children especially girls in schools.