Our work with communities in Jharkhand's Pakur District
Pakur District in Jharkhand has been known to have a high rate of child marriage, hazardous child labour activities and irregularities in the attendance of children across schools. This was largely because families didn’t know about the harm their children could face by being out of school. Pakur’s migrant population was another critical factor affecting children enrolling in schools. In addition to that, the pandemic left children feeling under-confident to go back to school after a 12-18 month break.
COMMUNITY SAFETY SESSIONS WITH BOYS IN PAKUR
When we started working in Pakur in 2018, our priority was to identify community volunteers who could closely work with us and the system to improve the situation.
Our initial months were spent on building trust in the communities, local authorities, and educational institutions. We hosted spaces where we spent time discussing aspects of safety, and their impact on children. Over time, we had 2500+ volunteers from the communities actively participating in sharing pressing local safety issues and potential root causes for their prevalence.
What We Did
We trained volunteers to equip families with the right knowledge about the major harm and safety issues caused by child marriage
We conducted workshops, training sessions, and shared several tools and resources about harm and safety with our volunteers to help them understand the severity of children being out of school. We also planned with our volunteers on ways they can engage with families and get their buy-in.
We connected families to government financial schemes
We worked with local authorities and volunteers to identify and share relevant information on state-wide and nation-wide schemes to support their child’s education, such as:
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna (guides parents to build a fund to take care of their daughter’s future education)
Tejaswani Program (Jharkhand Govt.’s flagship program supported by the world bank. Aims to ensure that all girls complete their secondary education, and develop relevant market-skills through vocational training for better livelihood opportunities.)
We worked with school principals on strategies to track and keep children
We worked on co-creating negotiation strategies to help principals have open dialogue with parents. The community volunteers and principals jointly worked with parents through individual and/or community outreach (PTM, awareness camps) to understand the challenges families faced, and build a joint action plan to bring children back to school. We also developed different plans to ensure we can effectively track and monitor the attendance of children, and flag missing / drop outs at every stage.
We built processes and systems for Panchayats and women volunteers to track unsafe migrations in their communities.
The community volunteers in collaboration with 49 Panchayats set up a register in each Panchayat to record details of migrating families from their communities. Trained volunteers along with the help of Panchayats to negotiate with migrating families to keep their children in the communities with a trusted adult while they traveled. While we can’t stop families from migrating for work, our goal was to ensure every child had a responsible, caring adult looking after them in the absence of their parents.
We set up remedial centres for out of school children
Remedial centres were set up as a solution to help children continue their learning and education, until they felt confident enough to go back to school. This worked remarkably in the past but more so during COVID, to reduce the learning gap. The centres are physical spaces where children and especially adolescents are provided the opportunity to meet with their peers, catch up on their learning or even just take a break from their daily chores at home or work under the supervision of trained volunteers. The school authorities have also played a crucial role and have proactively helped volunteers to identify local teachers and para-teachers to assist with running the centres.
increase in awareness
of the different ways through which children
increase in volunteers took initiatives to prevent harm to a child
shared that they have a clear plan to be financially independent in the future
are aware of at least three laws that protect girls and women from harm
know how to access local orgs, officials and helpline numbers
principals or senior staff work proactively with volunteers to improve school attendance
IDENTIFYING AND REPORTING
Cases reported between 2018-22 (previously 0 cases)
families identified as practicing unsafe migration
children were identified as school dropouts
of reported families are now practicing safe migration practices (where their children continue their education)
children of migrating families are now attending school regularly
of children who had dropped out of school have successfully re-enrolled
children were enrolled in remedial centers, of which 94% are continuing their education
child labour cases have been averted, and all the children were able to continue their education
ACCESS TO RESOURCES
children across 430 locations are linked to our safety peer network (57% girls)
girls linked to financial schemes (Sukanya Samriddhi and Tejaswani Program)
families linked to MGNREGA and Microfinance programs
remedial centers were set up to provide children with extra academic support
adolescent girls connected to each other and us through the Alumni Network
Everyone who works with children, directly or indirectly, should know how to keep them safe. We're committed to helping you do that.
Our framework for child protection - Listen, Identify, Support and Respond - is adaptable for all kinds of partners, be they government, civil society or communities. If you're ready to make child protection a part of your work - talk to us. We’d like to help you do it. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org