RGMVP’s initiative in the field of education commendable

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Education is a cause for concern in the RGMVP's Programme area. State-wide, according to the 2001 census, the literacy rate is 57.36 percent while the female literacy rate is 42.2 percent. These figures are far lower for rural areas in which RGMVP works. The Community-driven Education initiative works to change the community's perceptions and attitudes towards education, especially girls' education, and primary education for all through networking, community motivation and advocacy. The aims of the initiative are to sustain literacy skills; foster quality in education; encourage education of girls, Dalits and minorities; and promote low cost good quality children's education (especially English).

SHG and VO meetings work as nodal points to initiate advocacy and motivation on the issue of education. Awareness creation leads to women themselves discussing the importance of education, and actively pursuing re-enrolment of drop-outs and visiting teachers at schools to resolve any issues. VO and BO members support enrolment and follow-up of education in the area.

Community volunteers in the village are given training in using joyful learning techniques and other methodologies to improve basic learning levels. This initiative has been undertaken for the benefit of children who go to government-run schools but have limited reading and writing skills.

Enhanced income generation through the SHG model has also resulted in more families being able to afford education for their children. Many SHG women borrow funds from the SHG to invest in better education - privately run English medium schools - for their children.

Also driving Community-driven Education are several initiatives by the VOs. Increasingly disenchanted with the quality of education being provided by government-run schools, these institutions are taking matters into their own hands and supplementing the children's education with their own efforts. Community learning centres are being set up by the women themselves, which are managed and run by the VO as a ‘social enterprise'. At present 10 such centres are being run in Raebareli and Sultanpur districts.

Saath-Saath is another initiative, supported by the expertise and experience of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL & FS), Mumbai, under which English, Science, Mathematics and Life Skills are taught to children during out-of-school hours, by facilitators selected from the VOs and trained under the programme. Saath - Saath is a systematic programme for school children (class 1 to 6) through Community Learning Places that transforms children into successful learners, confident individuals, and responsible citizens and VO members int0 enabling teachers, nurturing leaders and effective administers. At present Saath-Saath covers about 5,000 students in 60 villages. The target is to reach out to 2,00,000 children within a period of two years.

English learning has also been initiated by the community itself to ensure that children acquire English speaking skills, especially if they are to take advantage of a wider range of opportunities for a better future. This programme was initially undertaken in association with RGCT's Rajiv Gandhi Saksharta Pariyojana through a partnership with the Education and Technology Services wing of IL&FS.. However, today, the English Relay Programme is driven by the SHGs and VOs.

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