For unlettered Hari Sabar, a tribal residing in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, sending children to school carried little meaning. He felt that it was better for his seven-year-old daughter to do household chores rather learning alphabets in school.
But thanks to the efforts of a group of dedicated educated youths, tribal children who were hitherto assisting their parents in augmenting family’s income have made their way to the doorsteps of schools in backward Mahakalpada tehsil of Kendrapara district. After days of persuasion, better sense finally prevailed upon Sabar, a traditional inland fisherman by profession. Her daughter is now enrolled in government-run Ramnagar primary school in Lunimathia village of the district.
Despite the avowed government claim for education for all, the tiny hamlet housing about 500 migrant tribal settlers had remained out of bounds of school education.
It’s for the first time; the tribal children from the said village have entered into primary education spheres. None from the village are literate even though they settled here in 60s after migrating from Mayurbhanj district.
“We had tried our best in past years. But we had failed. But the youth club volunteers have done a commendable job in impressing upon the parents to send their wards to school.
As many as 42 tribal children were enrolled in the school register”, Ramchandi Primary School Headmaster Akshyaya Kumar Routray said. “All of 500 odd tribal people of Lunimathia are illiterate. They had never been to schools. Parents of about 50 children below 10-year-age group never knew the value of school education”, youth club volunteer, Ranjan Mandal said.
Initially it was an uphill task to persuade obstinate parents. During day hours the parents were engaged in fishing activity while children were left to take care of household work. After minors attain adulthood, they used to assist in fishing, another volunteer, Mrutyunjay Mandal said.
After hectic counselling, they could comprehend the gap between Illiteracy and literacy, he said. “I have sent my daughter and son to school. We are happy as they are enjoying the school atmosphere”, said Sabar.
“My stay at school is full of joy and fun. Teachers are sincere in making me learn the Odia alphabets. I am taking mid-day-meal. I am lagging behind in studies than my classmates but I am confident to make it up in coming months,” narrated Jhuni.