By Chingshang Yambem, Manipur
There is a quiet little village about 25 kilometres from the Jiribam headquarters and 221 kilometres from Imphal. The village does not have a government school and the closest school is Covenant English School which has classes from kindergarten up to std VIII with no more than 120 students. This village has 120 households comprising mostly of the Hmar community and 30 households of the Bengali community.
The village was surveyed as part of ASER 2016. From a conversation with ASER volunteers during the survey last year, a ward member became interested in the work that we’ve been doing and showed interest in the RTE workshop. What follows next is a description how we collaborated with one interested citizen of India in improving the quality of education.
The RTE workshop was attended by the ward member, SMC members, parents, church goers and the local youth. We started the programme with a welcome address and began by showing a video of the national findings from the 11th ASER report followed by highlighting the status of primary education in Manipur. After this, an RTE workshop was conducted with a special focus on the role of SMC members. This led to an increased interest among the attendees and many hands went up. The following are three things that all SMC members agreed to carry out.
- The ward member along with the village head would request the elected representative of the area (MLA) to established one primary school in town, as per the RTE guidelines.
- The SMC will ensure that all the children in the village attend school.
- Parents and teachers would meet regularly and stay abreast of how well their children are doing in school.
On the second day of the workshop, we decided to show parents and community members how to conduct and analyse the learning levels of children themselves. Using material from the Lakhon mein Ek campaign that was conducted by Pratham and ASER Centre in 2015, we split into teams and went from house to house, assessing children and recording the learning levels in a report card. A completed report card was then presented to the village head who not only thanked us for our time and effort but also suggested that this become an annual affair before Christmas.
Volunteers pasted the village report card on a wall in the village, hoping for more engagement and discussions around the topic of primary education.
The purpose of this workshop has been to get villagers to know their rights and empower children, and it doesn’t end there. The workshop also encouraged parents, teachers and community members to take responsibility of ensuring that it is continued forward. This has been a very satisfying programme for the Manipur team that worked together to help make a difference to a quiet town in Manipur.