| The Ignou study centre in Muzaffarpur. Picture by Prakash Kumar |
Muzaffarpur, Dec. 6: Commercial sex workers, living a red-light area in Chatarbhuj Asthan, have a reason to thank Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou).
The varsity, in a unique initiative, has opened a centre of learning in the area for children of sex workers who don’t pursue higher education due to family pressure or financial reasons.
The Ignou course — bachelor of preparatory education — is a vocational programme at the plus-two level. The course not only imparts professional training to the students but also makes them eligible for degree courses.
Ignou opened the centre in August, as a part of a long-term plan to educate children of sex workers and bring them out of the dark alleys into the mainstream of society.
Ignou regional director A.N. Tripathi said that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) has been entrusted the job to bring the children from families of sex workers to the centre. Members of NGO Parcham, which works for the cause of children of sex workers, are visiting the area and interacting with the mothers as well as the children, asking them to join the Ignou course.
As many as 30 students have already enrolled in the first batch after clearing an elementary test.
Nikhat, a student at the centre, said: “Ignou has provided us with books and papers to learn the lessons that are taught by our teachers. The idea of pursuing this course has been supported by several residents of the locality.” Rumy, another student, said: “We, the younger generation from the locality, are quite excited about this opportunity to join the mainstream of society through education.”
The students are trained by by teachers appointed by Ignou. The first batch students have already submitted their forms to sit for the final examination, scheduled to be conducted at the Ignou centre in Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University soon.
In 2008, then district magistrate, Bipin Kumar had requested Ignou, New Delhi, to set up a centre in Muzaffarpur for children who come from families of sex workers who are willing to pursue higher education.
Kumar had forwarded a proposal to Tripathi to explore the possibilities for establishing a centre in the lanes of red light areas.