Friday, May 16, 2008

Schoolgirls fight social evils

PATNA: Bihari school girls are fighting against social evils at the grassroots levels. These girls studying in government middle schools have created an unique example in the society by preventing child marriages in their villages in recent months.

These girls have formed a small group, "Meena Manch", at the village level to check social evils such as child marriage. Only couple of months back, girls have stopped child marriages taking place in their villages.
Despite opposition of elders in the family and old village residents, these girls have succeeded in stopping child marriages which is still rampant in the society, said an HRD official.

"Despite stringent laws, child marriages are still taking place in largescale at the villages. The village-level community will have to raise voice against such evils," said a social worker.

HRD principal secretary Anjani K Singh told TOI: "We have received such information about stopping of a couple of such child marriages by these girls. Only recently, Meena Manch girls have prevented such marriages at Desri block in Vaishali district. Similarly, we have such reports from Rohtas district also."

These girls have also been trained in creating awareness about the social evils, including child marriages, witchcraft, superstition, drug abuse, alcoholism and tobacco products.

Meena Manch is a success story which has now become inspiration for others, admits an official. One such success story of a poor girl from Bihar who has become a role model for thousands of poverty-stricken children in the country, has already figured in National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks. Anita Kushwaha adopted bee-keeping for a better living and was awarded by the Unicef for her success in the profession.

Recently, the NCERT described her as a role model and included her saga in chapter five of a Class IV text book on environmental studies, "Looking Around".

Anita, the very girl from a backward family from remote Bochaha village in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, took up bee-keeping when she found that she could earn more from it with little investment.

As many as 50,000 girl students studying in government schools and who are living in bordering districts of Bihar would be given training in Madhubani paintings, sikki and sujni work, besides their normal studies. These girls are also being trained in handicraft work to attain self-sufficiency.

Similarly, girls from minority communities would also be given skill upgradation training in applique work in joint collaboration with National Open School (NOS). Apart from training, a certificate would also be given to these girls, said the HRD principal secretary.

Of late, the government schools have introduced incentives to encourage disadvantaged families to send their daughters to school, such as free uniforms, textbooks, schoolbags, cycles and mid-day meals.

With the new initiatives taken by the government in the fields of literacy, girls are now going to school in Bihar in great numbers than ever before. The female literacy rate has increased from 22 per cent in 1991 to 34 per cent in 2001, compared to the male literacy rate of 60 per cent (2001).

Source:Times of India