In Koraput, where the literacy rate is 49.87% at 24th position, school dropout rate is high among tribal girl child. Many parents insist their children work rather than learn. Children from these families spend their days driving domestic animals, collecting firewood, taking care of siblings, or making gravel.
One of the greatest barriers to child education in Koraput is that many children suffer from poor health before they are even old enough to attend school.The goal of our Early Childhood Care & Development program is to ensure that children reach their school age healthy and well nourished, intellectually curious, socially confident, and equipped with a solid foundation for lifelong learning.
Against this background, South Orissa Voluntary Action(SOVA) resolved to intervene in the following areas;
Improving learning outcomes through MTB multi-lingual education:– The focus of the program is to address the issues of language among the school children during their classroom transaction. The disparity of language in this multi tribal dominated area where the mode of communication for the Kandha, Gadaba and Paraja tribe is different from the school adopted odiya language; leading to poor understanding of lesson, is addressed through this programme. This issue leads to severely affect the socio economic condition of the people. As a sequence to low curiosity in school education by the children; high dropouts, early marriage, low educational index of people and undeveloped economic condition are on its rise. To address this issue, the program looked to develop innovative TLMs with support of District Education department and capacitated the teachers in using the tool as a medium of translation during classroom transaction. Words were developed with odiya dialect and tribal accent (Kandha, Gadaba and Paraja) which is very effective in addressing the language issues. SOVA has developed different word books, sentence books, story and picture books in three tribal languages pitching it with the existing school language odiya through the support of community members, teachers, tribal members and PRIs
Writing and Reading Improvement Plan (WRIP):– will be the key teaching module to teach children in their own language. Writing and reading are the two skills where children in schools are lacking far behind their counterparts in other area. This plan will create interest among the children to continue in schools. The children will receive knowledge on reading and writing skills using different story, word and sentence card and other related materials, which will help in improving their skills in writing and reading of books in Oriya language. Thus the students dropped out will be mainstreamed in schools also the slow learner will improve their learning level as per the age.
Our 14-week reading enrichment program improves reading skills among government primary school students of selected schools. We piloted the program in 2007 in 8 centers with 160 children from grade 2. It quickly identified the fast and slow learners, and then motivated the faster learners to tutor their peers who were falling behind. This method increased the children’s capacity to memorize, retain information, and teach others.
Balwadi Centers : Balwadi centers provide a learning and nourishing environment for children aged 3 to 6.With The support of ICDS department We are trying to strengthen the existing Government-run Anganwadi Centers through providing teaching learning materials(TLM)in tribal language and improving the capacity of Anganwadi workers through ABL tool(Activity based learning).Our aim is to have this model replicated in all government centers. Another important part of our program is encouraging mothers to get involved in their children’s learning at the centers and at home. Without this, the Anganwadi centers would not be such a success.
Child Clubs: We’ve facilitated “Child Clubs”, association where members between the ages of 6 and 14 are educated on child rights, health, early marriage, and advocacy. In these clubs, children work together to discuss their issues and come up with strategies to improve the well-being of themselves and their communities.They have also formed their own Village and Gram panchayat-level federation where they have successfully sought action on improving schools and increasing access to education in remote areas.The clubs are very active in their communities, providing villagers information about common problems like malaria and diarrhea through puppet show also promoting awareness against child marriage and child labour issue. These activities have vastly improved the relationship and communication between children and adults.
Inclusive Education :SOVA is implementing district inclusive education programme in the district of Koraput for children with visual impairments. The activities include conduct of skill development trainings, organizing low vision assessment camps, supporting children with Braille kits and low vision assessment to ensure enrolment of visually challenged children in mainstreaming schools. The project has a key objective to develop demonstrative models to be replicated in other areas especially in the rural settings.
As part of programme SOVA has worked on community based rehabilitation approach especially for people with visual impairments. Primary objectives being empower this vulnerable community to get into mainstream and explore their full potentiality. SOVA is also having experience on community rehabilitation programme with people with disabilities in Koraput District.