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School campaign in slum

A premier Jamshedpur cradle embarked upon a door-to-door mass literacy campaign for slum children on Tuesday.

Narbheram Hansraj English School (NHES), which has enrolled 17 BPL students in LKG under the Right to Education Act provision, has decided to make deprived families in and around the city know the importance of educating children.

To start with, 25 Narbheram students approached around 50 households of a Bistupur slum behind Tilak Pustakalay for a survey on Tuesday.

“Our school has decided to initiative a mass project. We want to reach out to as many deprived children as possible. Our work starts with a survey because we want to know ground realities first instead of preaching,” said Pranjal Sarawgi.

For Pranjal, it was a shock to learn that many slum children between six to 14 years of age don’t go to school even though they stay in the heart of the city.

“We asked children and adults questions to understand the level of their awareness and attitudes, told them about why education was important and also about the midday meal scheme in state-run schools,” said the student.

Questions that students asked the slum-dwellers ranged from the number of children in one family, adult and minor earning members and income levels, to whether youngsters were dropouts or had never attended school in the first place. “We want to help the less fortunate children. The 17 BPL children enrolled in our school get textbooks and extra academic care. Now, our ambit has increased to reaching out to slums and telling residents there why schooling is a must for children,” said Class XI student and campaigner Supratim Ghosh Dastidar.

He added that making slum children study against the wishes of their parents would be tough. “We will repeat our visits for our message to make an impact,” he said.

School principal Paromita Roychoudhury had a pragmatic approach. “We have around 30 seats reserved for BPL students, but only 17 took admission in the current academic session. Slum children and teachers do face communication problems as the former can understand only the regional language,” she said.

She stressed that these socio-economic problems would not be overcome in a day. It needed sustained efforts. “What we want to tell adults and parents in slums is that schooling, be it in government or private cradles, is compulsory if the next generation is to get ahead. A start has been made. But the momentum has to grow,” she said.