The multiple waves of COVID-19 and consequent crisis adversely affected the well-being of children, with the impact being most acute on children from marginalised sections of society. They got exposed to increased vulnerabilities related to protection, nutrition, health and education. In addition, pandemic-induced school closures and livelihood losses in families dependent on the informal economy led to children from these families dropping out of school to support household needs.
In October 2021, ActionAid Association initiated a campaign titled ‘Yes to School’ in Rajasthan. The objective was to identify vulnerable out-of-school girls facing the risk of being forced into early marriage, child labour or trafficking and to enable them to resume their education. As part of this campaign, our volunteers, together with Anganwadi workers and community-based Saathins, could identify a total of 5,661 adolescent girls aged 12-18 years from Alwar, Barmer, Bundi, Jaisalmer, Karauli and Tonk districts. Working with the Department of Women Empowerment, Government of Rajasthan, we linked these girls to Shiksha Setu Yojana, a state government programme. Thus, we could register students in open schools to continue their education.
Under the 2022 leg of the ‘Yes to School’ campaign, the focus was on facilitating the formation and capacity-building of Child Protection Committees across ten districts. As a result of our efforts jointly with School Management Committees and other related stakeholders, in this phase, a total of 8,147 out-of-school girls and 616 out-of-school boys have been identified across the districts of Alwar, Banswara, Baran, Barmer, Bharatpur, Bundi, Jaisalmer, Karauli, Nagaur and Tonk. Through continued engagement with the respective district administrations, we are now working towards linking these children to Shiksha Setu Yojana and enrolling them in open schools.