The Telegraph
Friday , February 28 , 2014
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Panchayat leaders go back to school, but to offer solutions
- NGO arranges meeting with cub reporters to solve problems ranging from dearth of teachers to lack of sports gear

A visit to Madhya Vidyalaya, Pathargora, in Musaboni may change your notion about government schools.

In a state where the education department often turns a deaf ear to the school’s myriad problems, Madhya Vidyalaya boasts chessboard, badminton rackets and even football gear. The credit goes to Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members in East Singhbhum district, who have agreed to visit schools under their jurisdiction, discuss the students’ problems and offer solutions.

A Jamshedpur-based NGO, Adarsh Seva Sansthan, is arranging the special visits with the objective to address the issues raised by cub reporters in government schools.

Under the new initiative, the panchayat members are covering around 20 schools, which are under Unicef’s child reporters’ programme, across four blocks of Musabani, Jamshedpur, Dhalbhumgarh and Ghatshila in East Singhbhum district.

From dearth of teachers to lack of electricity, the PRI members are offering solutions to all problems.

For instance, when Class VIII student Sudha Rani Tudu of Rajkiya Adarsh Madhya Vidyalaya under Devghar panchayat in Jamshedpur block shared the problem of dearth of teachers in her school, the panchayat members promised to help them with educated volunteers.

“There are hardly any teacher in our school and thus our studies do get affected. When we discussed the problem with our mukhiya Abodh Singh, he said though he cannot arrange for teachers, he would help us with volunteers. He has given us his personal phone number so that we can inform him about other problems like child marriage, child labour etc,” smiled cub reporter Sudha.

However, the NGO is yet to decide on the number of panchayats they would rope in.

“It depends on the response,” said Tarun Kumar, project coordinator of Adarsh Seva Sansthan.

Started in January, so far the NGO has been able to fix four meetings — the first at Madhya Vidyalaya in Pathargora in Musabani followed by the one at Madhya Vidyalaya in Khakripara, Jamshedpur and Rajkiya Adarsh Madhya Vidyalaya in Jamshedpur and the latest one at Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya in Tiranga panchayat of Musabani.

All the four meetings have yielded phenomenal results. The PRI members have promised to help the students in every way possible.

Adarsh Seva Sansthan now plans to regularise these meetings, targeting two schools in every panchayat in a month.

“The aim is basically to make students aware of the PRI network, which is the best form of local governance. The meeting between the child reporters and parents did not yield the desired result. Though the students raised their voice against social evils, in most cases the parents did not support the children. Thus, panchayat was a better option,” said NGO project coordinator Kumar.

The panchayat members are also happy to help.

“Students face a lot of problem and we feel good if we can offer solutions. Recently, we gave sports gear to students because their school did not have any. We also asked them to inform us if there was any case of child labour or child marriage and we will take necessary actions like meeting the family or informing the thana,” said Sohanlal Banra, mukhiya of Pathargora panchayat in Musabani block of East Singhbhum.