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Innovations in the school enrollment drive gain momentum across Maharashtra

© UNICEF/India/2007
Happy to be back in school again.

By Vidya Kulkarni

At the onset of new academic year, Mr. Vasant Purke, Maharashtra State Minister for Education, has evolved a novel idea in Yavatmal district to urge parents to send their children to school. Dnyanrath parikrama, or the Chariot of Knowledge, is traveling from village to village to spread the message of school enrollment. An attractively decorated chariot with slogans and pictures along with presentations of entertaining songs and skits make sure that appeal to “educate children” reaches and touches everyone’s heart. The chariot has been able to build widespread awareness on school enrollment as it travels across all 220 villages in the district. 
  
Equally energetic initiatives are on in other districts of Maharashtra to improve school enrollment as part of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which is an ongoing programme in the state to ensure universal primary education.

The fortnight long drive was celebrated with much gaiety and fervor, like a community event, with involvement of Village Education Committee, villagers and school children. The major thrust of the drive this time remains on mainstreaming of out-of-school children.

Mr. Parimal Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Nanded district made use of the local radio station to reach out to wider sections of society. He organised a series of programmes to highlight problems of out-of-school children. The appeal for school enrollment was broadcast every day in news features. People’s representatives, like the Sarpanch and Zilla Parishad members, were also roped in through public programmes in their respective constituencies.

In Gadchiroli district, the emphasis is on reaching the unreached. As a result of the persuasive drive, children from Bahurupi tribe, a nomadic community, in Shankarpur village will get to enroll into school for the first time this year. So far the community has kept themselves away from any sort of formal education. Special efforts were made by the villagers and government officers to convince the community members, who ultimately agreed to enroll a total of 19 children in the local school.

The education departments in Parbhani and Ahmednagar districts set a personal responsibility on their officials, to improve school enrollment. In both these districts the officials sort of adopted the out of school children and kept personal track of their families to convince them for school enrollment.

Similarly in Wardha district the education officers distributed block-wise responsibilities among themselves and made focused efforts to convince those families who were ignorant about education.

Almost all districts chalked out systematic plans for the enrollment drive and reviewed their efforts from time to time to achieve desired results

This year, the enrollment drive expects to mainstream over 120,000 children of school going age, who are at present out of school.

 

 

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