Bihar: Schools resuming despite floods
Bring smiles on children’s facesPatna, September, 18, 2007: Kusum Kumari, a student of class V has good reason to rejoice, in spite of being displaced by floods. She has an Alternative Learning Space (ALS) being run by her own school teacher in the Bargamma Gachi camp in Kalyanpur block of Samastipur district, Bihar.
Similarly 60,000 children are enjoying the semi-structured recreational activities organized by their own school teachers in the ALSs. All the children will go back to their regular schools after the floods recede from their villages.
The Bihar government resumed schooling immediately after floods, by re-opening the schools or starting ALSs, depending on the flood situation in the villages.
In all 565 Alternative Learning Spaces (ALS) have been set up covering about 60,000 students. Most of the ALSs are in camps, embankments, inundated / damaged schools and on roadsides / sites where displaced people live.
The unique feature of the ALSs is that out-of-school children have also been enrolled in addition to the children who attend government schools. ALSs have thus provided an opportunity to increase the enrollment of out-of-school children and to mainstream them subsequently in regular government schools.
The State Project Director of Bihar Education Project Council has issued detailed instructions to teachers, Block Elementary Education Officers and District Superintendents of Education in the entire flood affected districts on what needs to be done with respect to schooling in the post flood scenario. Teaching and learning materials provided have facilitated in the reintegration of teachers and children.
“Most of the elementary schools in the flood affected districts in Bihar are now functioning as normal. The main challenge ahead is improving the pupil attendance and bridging the gap in the learning of the students caused by closure of schools.” said Mr. Anjani Kumar Singh, Secretary, Department of Human Resource Development, Government of Bihar.
‘’Re-establishing education after an emergency not only meets a fundamental right of children, but it also normalizes the environment for children. Schools can become safe havens for children, during any emergency. UNICEF has provided tents, stationery, portable black boards, teaching learning charts, for the Alternative learning spaces being set up’’. says Mr. Rajbhandari, State Representative of UNICEF, Bihar.
About 3 million children in 16,000 schools in the eight worst flood affected districts will also be imparted accelerated hygiene / health education. The teachers, after their training, will educate students on the key practices and life skills related to hygiene, nutrition and health.