Tatijore is a village, situated 25 km away from Balishankara block of Sundergarh district. 17 Korua families are the most deprived among the other tribes residing in korua pada (a hamlet) of Tatijore village. Along with Korua, there are other nine communities living in different hamlets of village. Korua families have been living in this village since last 40 years; but they are living a life as semi-nomadic. Collection of uncultivated food & herbs from forests, catching fishes and making bricks in the kilns situated in other villages are their main occupation. Thus, some of their children also used to wander here and there with their parents to catch fishes or collect wild berries or help in making bricks as child labour.
Some of these children are going to the village primary school situated in Tatijore, which is 1 k.m. away from their hamlet. Because of this distance, also many children were not going to the school as well; rather they used to prefer to get engaged with their parents in other works.
The children came under the notice of the Centre for Integrated Rural and Tribal Development (CIRTD), a partner organization of ActionAid India working in the area. Upon a close look, the CIRTD staffer found that most of the children were severely malnourished. They were deprived from their entitlements in schools, where there is provision of free mid-day-meals and other facilities such as free book, free uniforms etc.
To start with CIRTD launched a Nutrition Supplement Programme by serving cooked meals prepared from finger-millets, pulses along with boiled eggs for 6 months in the year 2016. In the month of February 2017, CIRTD staff invited the officers of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and encouraged them to visit Korua Pada to conduct a survey. It was found that 20 boys and 10 girls belong to the age group of 6-14 years were out of school. Following some follow-up, a NCLP School was opened in the month of April. All the 30 children were enrolled into the school and now they are studying in different standards based on their age and prior education.
The initiative has not only helped the children getting their rights to education fulfilled but also they are getting benefits of free mid-day-meals, free books, free uniform in the same way students avail benefits in other government schools.
In addition, these children will get stipend of rupees 100/- per month, and according to their teacher interested students can get vocational education as well. It is observed that the students are now going to the school regularly and enjoying the environment.
“I am regularly going to our new school opened in our Korua Pada (hamlet). Our didi (school teacher) tells us stories and also make us sing. I enjoy singing songs. I also like the food given to us,” says 10-year-old Munu Majhi.
Manu’s mother Surati Majhi is a happy woman. She says it was possible because of the intervention by CTIRD people.
“Thanks to Balaram Naik and Ahalya Sa (of CIRTD) for their efforts towards the opening of the new school. Now our children are regularly going to school without roaming here and there. I am very happy now,” she says.