State women’s commission chairperson Mahua Maji (centre) at the event in Ranchi on Friday. (Prashant Mitra)
Jharkhand has recorded more than 90 per cent enrolment of children in the Centre and state-funded primary education project, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a phenomenal achievement, given the enormous social challenges faced by the state that is a regular victim of left wing extremism.
A discussion organised by Save the Children, an international child rights organisation, concluded on Friday that Jharkhand had achieved a net enrolment ratio of 92.09 per cent in the primary education project and was expected to touch 100 per cent next year.
The discussion, held at a city hotel, was organised to mark the 500-day countdown to achieving millennium development goals (MDGs) set by United Nations in 2000.
That year, a UN Millennium Declaration was announced and global partners were asked to commit to reduce extreme poverty and address issues related to it. As many as eight goals with time-bound targets were set.
The goals were: i) eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, ii) achieve universal primary education, iii) promote gender equality and empower women, iv) reduce child mortality, v) improve maternal health, vi) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, viii) ensure environmental sustainability and viii) global partnership for development.
Discussions focused on the state’s performance in the areas of poverty eradication, gender equality, child mortality and maternal health.
Panelists noted that a 56.2 per cent female literacy posed a major hindrance towards achieving goals in the area of gender equality.
Jharkhand, it was also noted, had made remarkable progress in reducing child mortality rates.
In 2001, the state’s infant mortality rate (IMR) was 62, but in 2014 it was down to 36.
But, the state is lagging behind in improving maternal health. Maternal mortality rate (MMR) stood at 219, whereas the acceptable number was 100 deaths in 1 lakh child births. In 2001, the state’s MMR was 400.
“We need to look beyond figurative presentations,” said economist Ramesh Sharan. “Jharkhand’s culture and communities have many in-built good practices, which if promoted on time, would have helped in achieving some of the targets by now.”
Sharan said he was an advocate of “zero tolerance” to any hurdle in achieving the targets.
“Even as society gets more literate, female foeticide is increasing. The need of the hour is sincerity and commitment towards achieving the goals,” he added.
Mahadev Hansda, state programme manager of Save the Children spoke of the need to mobilise people. “We need public support towards hastening our progress on the goals,” he said.
Among the others present were chairperson of State Commission for Women Mahua Maji, chairperson of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Roop Laxmi Munda, right to food activist Balram, and founder of Ekjut, a Chakradharpur based NGO, Prashant Tripaty.