on the details of
9 slums in Kashi Vidhyapeeth Ward of District Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Thematic Intervention: Education, Protection, Participation
Dr. Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation (SRF) is a secular, non-profit development organisation, which was established by the group of development professionals under the inspiration of literary figure and social activist late Dr. Shambhunath Singh. In the initial phase, the organisation worked in the field of protection and development of culture, art and literature. Over the last 2 decades, SRF has undertaken interventions on child rights, women’s empowerment, human rights, urban development and environment protection in rural, semi urban and urban areas. SRF has partnered with a number of national and international organisations to support projects in and around Varanasi. The Project Holder, Dr. Rajeev Kumar Singh, has around 25 years of experience working with different agencies like the UP Voluntary Health Association, has been nominated to various government committees and has been honoured with the ‘Red and White Bravery Gold Medal’ in 2001 for his work against child labour, by Godfrey Phillips India Limited.
SRF, with CRY support, is working in the slum community of Kashi Vidyapeeth Ward of Varanasi City. Varanasi, being the center of tourist attraction, has a lot of employment opportunities available on the Ghat and other areas of the city. It is the search of employment which brings people from adjoining areas to come and settle down in slums and earn their livelihood. Although a number of slums are identified under District Urban Development Authority (DUDA), a substantial number of slums are still unidentified and do not have basic amenities like drinking water, school facilities, health posts etc. Most of these slums face the threat of displacement or even demolition by the original owners. The reference community members are largely living on daily wage earning by doing unskilled or semi-skilled activities at construction sites, Rickshaw pulling, other manual labor work at shops, and other places. Typically these sources and their engagements are not permanent. Women and children are most commonly self-employed as they offer petty services or get involved in selling petty items in shops, assisting petty mechanical jobs and so on. This creates pressure on children to dropout from schools at an early age and start working to supplement family incomes.
Mughal Sarai Junction (adjacent to Varanasi) is identified as a safe transit zone for child trafficking, it being one of the largest junction points for north and eastern India. Bihar and West Bengal are potential source points for such activities. Urban slum of Varanasi has been witnessing child marriages in different forms and in different context. It has clear link with the trafficking of girl children. It impacts health of a young girl, loss of chances to be educated and reduced status in the marital relationship and the marital family. It affects overall development of a child- rights to survival, protection, development, and freedom from discrimination, physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.
- To create an enabling environment that empowers children to influence decision making on issues that affect them.
- To create informed sensitized, empowered family members and community to stop child marriage.
- Ensuring vigilant governance for child protection in operational areas.
- Ensuring access and quality education for all children at primary, upper primary and secondary school level.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
SRF has been working on child rights for past several years and has ample experience and credibility in the sector. With support from CRY, the team has built a good rapport with the community and the community is now supporting them in the project activities. The team has been actively working in the area of child protection and has been involved in several state and district committees. Organisational representation in Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and District ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme) committee has brought an opportunity for enhancing the impact on the situation of children. The organization is currently focusing on education and protection. Pre-school education has been one of the important issues faced by the children living in the slums of Varanasi. ICDS centres have been identified as entry point to create access to education for children in the age group of 3-6 years.
Major achievements from the review period include:
- 20 ICDS workers and 200 members of Mothers Committees were engaged in educating the community about pre-school education. Discussion about school readiness programme was organised with the help of ICDS workers and Mother Committee members. Gaps were identified.
- 92 % pregnant women were linked with ICDS centres.
- Pupil teacher ratio has been maintained as per the RTE norms in all the 9 schools of the SRF intervention areas.
- The organization has been working on law related to child marriage in 9 bastis (hamlets). The partner is interacting with stakeholders in 4 districts of Varanasi division.
- 32 testimonies of victims of child marriage have been compiled. A report of the Aap Biti is also compiled and shared with the stakeholders. This is the 1st hand primary sources on the challenges and issues of victims of child marriage.
- 5 cases of child trafficking have been taken up by the police station. 3 children from these victims have been enrolled in school.
- The SRF team and volunteers were given orientation on functioning of Prevention of Child Marriage Act 2006, CWC, Police and Administration and Child Protection mechanism. They were engaged in analyzing the reason, culture and practice of the child marriage.
The team will continue to focus on education and protection. Additionally, the team will also continue to explore opportunities for working on participation.
Focus1: Ensuring access and quality education for all children at primary, upper primary and secondary school level.
- To ensure process of enrolment of out of school children (6-14 Yrs), will continue through the year.
- The mapping of children in intervention area to be done based on age group, drop outs, finding the reason of drop outs, enrolment and retention of dropout children.
- Consultation will be organised to develop a Retention Tracking Tool/ System.
- Children in the age group of 14-18 years will be mapped: Out of school children- will be categorised in [a] never been to school, [b] dropout.
- Engaging children through children collectives and orienting them about the child rights issues.
- Linkage of dropout children with NIOS (National Institution of Open schooling), Skill Development Mission), Polytechnics and other skill development institutes/Schemes.
- Capacity building of school management committee on quality education and School Development Plan (SDP).
- Interface with school management committee (SMC), Education Dept and District Education Committee for Sharing of findings on Learning Assessment.
Focus 1: To create informed sensitized, empowered family members and community to stop child marriage.
- Community awareness meeting in all 09 bastis of Varanasi on child marriage, its legal consequences as well as ill effect on overall growth and development on children.
- To organize Aap Biti ( a forum for victims to share their issues related to child marriage and its impact on their lives for further action) of victims of child marriage, its documentation and analysis.
- Generate primary and secondary data on child marriage; Analysis on child marriage data.
- The Critical Cases will be identified and communication with the identified children will be started.
- Customised Treatment Plan for each identified critical case will be developed to address the issue
- Engagement plan of community leaders, religious leaders and social activists will be developed to check this and stop Child marriage.
- Strengthening of children collectives by engaging them with Community Information Centre (CIC) members.
- Undertake mapping of protection mechanism & protection structure in Varanasi division.
Focus2: Ensuring vigilant governance for child protection in operational areas
- To orient team members on revise ICPS and its structures, role and responsibilities of different structures etc.
- Listing of stakeholders & protection unit from urban slums to district level and state level. The team will study materials on protection mechanism.
- The community leaders, alert groups and organizations working on Child marriage issued will be part of the pressure group to make functional child protection structure.
- Consultation meeting to be organized to ensure formation of Ward Child Protection Committee (WCPC) in the urban areas under Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).
- Awareness meeting with the community leaders will be organised to sensitise them through discussion on the menace of child marriage.
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