Mandi Sahajana is a small village in Shahabad block, where 12 families of Kirad community and 51 families of Sahariya community reside for years. While Sahariyas are among Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, Kirads fall under Other back ward classes This village is situated in a hilly area surrounded by rivers and forest. It is located in the south east of Shahabad at a distance of 20 km. Purampur is another village closely connected to Mandi Sahjana within 2 km, where 62 families from Bheel community, which is a scheduled tribe, reside. People of Kirad and Bheel community mostly engage in farming. Tiparka and Manpur are two more habitations that are located about 3 km from Mandi Sehejana and they together have about 40 families which are mostly of Sahariya community.
For children residing in these villages (except Tiparka Manpur), Mawadis are run by Tribal Area Development Department in which 30 children can study upto class II level. After studying beyond Class II, Government Primary Schools are there in Mandi Sahajana, Purampur, Tiparka Manpur where 20, 62 and 16 children are enrolled respectively. There is no Upper Primary School in all these villages and the children cover distance of about 5 to 6 km to attend nearest Upper primary School in Kasbanonera
Condition Sahariya community is comparatively poor and most vulnerable. All those who have a little bit land, do faming and others work for daily wages, work as bonded labor, pursue goat rearing, work under MGNREGA and/or migrate seasonally for similar purpose. Some mortgage their lands to big tenants (Kirad community) and then keep working in their fields.
One fact, which is similar with all these villages, is their low awareness level on education, health, and nutrition. Therefore, Prayatn Sanstha has been implementing 2 projects in these villages. One is on ‘Combating Malnutrition through Livelihood Development Project’ financed by Bread for the World, Germany focusing on the economic aspect of the community and other is ‘She Leads Change project’ funded by EMpower focusing on the educational aspect of the community children. Organization has observed from the baseline survey that the ratio of dropout cases in these villages were very high comparing with other villages.
Organization decided to find out the reasons for the same and it was observed that, the community discriminates between girls and boys. Therefore, girls were compelled to work in the household chores and fields, while boys go to school. Parents had no interest in education and alcohol intoxication and playing card was high in the community.
In July 2022, She Leads Change Project was initiated in these villages. As per the strategy, Prayatn Sanstha initiated project activities through the formation of the village level Institutions like Village Development Committee, Bal Manch, Kishori Manch etc. Project team has incorporated various activities and sessions to strengthen the committees, in order to address various issues, which are affecting the development of the community and children.
As per the baseline survey report of these villages, all of the children who are dropped outs have completed their primary education. Children have to travel at least 5 km to reach Kasba Nonera Upper Primary school after the primary education. Therefore, it has been observed that the prime reason for the dropout is the non-existence of upper primary schools in these villages. As per the baseline survey 50 % of adolescent girls in these 2 villages left their studies in midway due to this reason. Even that has been increased to 80% in villages like Baseli, Ledra, Gannakhedi, Manpur Tiparka and Neem Mandi.
As per the strategy decided, Prayatn stepped into the process of advocacy through the community groups to initiate further steps to address the issue for the benefit of the children in the community. Other than regular meetings and capacity building sessions, Prayatn Sanstha organized various awareness activities with the community like puppet shows, rallies, slogans on issues like gender-based discrimination, dropout of education, health related problems etc. Other than that, adolescents were provided life skill trainings to get empowered and sharpen various skills like communication, creativity, interpersonal skills etc. which helped them approaching the authorities with all confidence without any hesitation.
Organization oriented the community groups about the Right to Education Act 2009, where it is stated that an upper primary school must be established in a distance of 3 km. Since the responsibility of upgrading the school is belongs to the education department, organization decided to support the community to raise the issue through the advocacy processes. VDC and AGG together prepared a proposal and submitted to the CBEO, who was invited on the final day of Life skill Training at Shahabad in January. It has been considered as very urgent and the file has been moved to higher officials. VDC and AGG together submitted application to Sarpanch, on January 26th in the Gram Sabha Meeting in the village.
Community again submitted a memorandum to the Additional District Magistrate and Sub-Divisional Officer in Shahabad in February. Again, in March, they submitted it to MLA Mrs. Nirmala Sahariya. On April 6 2023, they went to Baran and submitted request to District Collector, District Magistrate, Chief District Education Officer and Chief Executive Officer – Zila Parishad.
Finally, On the basis of unswerving demand from the community and adolescents and the submitted report of dropout cases, The District Education Officer sent a letter of recommendation to upgrade schools from primary to upper primary. Consequently, Mandi Sahjana’s name has been added in the first list of school up gradation issued by the state government in its order dated 27.04.2023. Surprisingly, from all the 62 schools upgraded, Mandi Sahajana is the only school got upgraded in Baran district of Rajasthan.
It is important to note that enrolment in Mandi Sahejana school was lower than Purampur but Upper primary School has been sanctioned here because the Mandi Sahejana lies in the center of all the villages mentioned at the beginning of the case study and will therefore, be accessible for children from all villages.
Based on the continuous effort of the members of the Community Based Institutions, finally both the villagers are so glad. Adolescents are very proud that their efforts are articulated to have a gross change in the history of the village. Today, under the guidance of CBEO, two more classrooms are constructing for the upgraded class. The work is expected to within July.