Fifty-two girls including 45 from the Boxa tribe of Uttarakhand’s Dehradun in the age group of 11-14 years have started going to school for the first time following an initiative by the district administration.
A recent survey by the Dehradun district administration in the remote areas of the district found that over 400 girls in the 11-14 years age group were not going to school as they had either dropped out or had never been enrolled.
Akhilesh Mishra, programme officer Dehradun district said, “During an inspection for some project around Vikasnagar area, we saw that many children were roaming around outside and were not in schools. We then enquired a little and found that these girls were not enrolled in schools.”
“Most of them were from the Boxa tribe who are mostly engaged in daily-wage jobs or small-scale farming and did not have a culture of educating children, especially girls. Girls would either not go to schools at all or stop after 8-9 years. We then conducted a survey to find out the exact number and have now started getting the students enrolled in schools,” said Mishra.
The survey was carried out by aanganwadi workers who were already involved in spreading awareness among locals on the coronavirus epidemic.
The survey was then expanded and is now being conducted in the rural areas of Dehradun district, Mishra said that the number of girls not in schools could go up to 1,000. Till now, the officials have identified 336 students who are dropouts and 64 girls who have never been enrolled in schools.
At present, 45 girls from the tribe have been admitted to government schools with the Dehradun district administration paying their fees. Nineteen other girls want to continue education from open universities.
Dehradun district magistrate AK Srivastava has appealed to people to come forward and help the administration to educate the girls.
The project was handled on ground mainly by Taruna Chamola, child development project officer Vikasnagar, Saroj Dhyani the women welfare officer of the area and district coordinators Lakshmi Chauhan and Vaibhavi Dora.
The district administration is also tapping companies to raise money through Corporate Social Responsibility donations to fund the education of these children so that lack of finance does not force them to quit school, said Mishra.
According to the official records of the state education department, Uttarakhand has over 23.25 lakh students going to schools between the age group of 6-17 years, of which over 8.81 lakh students are enrolled in government schools.