Education Movement (PREM)
PREM-UNFPA’S Action for Adolescent Girls
in Gumma Block of Gajapati district, Odisha
PREM in collaboration with UNFPA has, in mid-July, 2015, lunched forth an expeditious ‘Action for the Adolescent Girls’ in Gumma Block of Gajapati district, Odisha, under the project entitled, “Empowering the tribal adolescent girls through SHGs”. The project Goal, as connoted by its title, is the empowerment of Adivasi Adolescent Girls through health, social and economic asset creation amongst them by means of enhanced opportunities for Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) related information and services, out-of-school girls’ continuation in education, life/ vocational skill building and thus gradually leading to the realization of their aspirations and impacting eradication of child marriage.
The strategic directions that the project follows encompass mobilization of adolescent girls into SHGs, building enabling environment for the proactive support of the key stakeholders, generating adolescents’ health, social and economic assets and convergence and linkages for vocational training, skill building and continuation in studies.
The project has a fourfold objective that rests upon an enabling and operational environment for
Manifold activities have been undertaken in order to achieve the goal and the set objectives of the project. The project Staff training was the point of departure, followed by a survey and line listing of adolescent girls coming within 10 to 19 years of age range in the operational block. The survey has revealed that as many as 7136 adolescent girls exist in the block. 6799 of them are unmarried and 337, married. 3251 are the ones between 10 and 14 years of age and 3885, between 15 and 19, the period/ juncture of high risk (teenage pregnancy, STIs/HIV etc). 5394 of the adolescent girls are literate including 1499 that have gone up to 5th standard, and not beyond, with nominal learning equivalent to illiteracy functionally. Girls within 6th to 10th standards number 3230 and those in the college, only 665. The downright illiterate girls count 1742, the drop outs, 1636 and those who are continuing, 3758. Of the total number, 5915 belong to ST, 236, to SC, 856, to OBC and 129, to general caste communities. The girls from BPL families outnumber (3780) the ones from the families Above the Poverty Line which count 3291; 96 families remain yet to determine formally their economic status, which category they belong to, although they struggle for existence amidst abject poverty. 1872 girls have personal bank accounts and the rest (5264) have no account of their own. While 1661 have some kind of work, 5474 have no work whatsoever. 286 girls have undergone vocational trainings (one in ANM, 41 in computer application, 4 in nursing and 240 in tailoring) and 6842 have not received any such training at all.
Block Level Workshop
PREM has succeeded in building an enabling environment, at the outset, to expedite the progress of the program by holding a block level introductory-cum-launching workshop for the normally linked key stake holders, covering mostly the district/block line departmental officials and the representatives in the PRIs. The workshop brought out an overwhelming resolution, unanimously passed by the representatives, upholding the project’s initiatives as commendable; it accords an amiable welcome to the project and assures of PRIs’ commitment of cordial cooperation to the project’s implementation. Subsequently, similar workshops have been organized for the 324 ICDs workers and 100 ASHA workers in the block. The workshops ended up, in the like manner, with the same anticipated assenting tone of unwavering promise made by the workers to contribute their bit, remaining within the frame work of their functions and services, with all honesty and selflessness, to the shaping of the lives and future of the adolescent girls.
Community Resource Centers for the Adolescents Girls
A major breakthrough has, so far, been the establishment of Community Resource Centers for the adolescent girls in 5 Panchayat headquarters of the operational block. The centers, equipped with multifarious relevant learning aids, audiovisuals, internet connectivity, printing and Xerox facilities serve diverse purposes of the adolescent girls as well as those of the communities around. Dr. Deepa Prasad, SPC, UNFPA, Odisha, Dr. Jacob Thundyil, president, PREM and Mr. A. Surya Rao, MLA, Parla Khemundi constituency, inaugurated the Resource Centers on the 7th October, 2015 amidst great jubilation among the multitude of people who thronged the centers on the occasion.
Five Panchayat coordinators and 10 peer leaders, intensively oriented on the fundamentals of computer application, over a period of 3 weeks, run the centers. Adolescent girls visit their respective resource centers on the days appointed for them no less than twice a week.
Training for Master Trainers
A four days long training was held for a team of master trainers, composed of 2 freelance resource persons and the 19 Panchayat Coordinators of the project, mainly on the standard Girl Centric Curriculum developed, in phases, by a concerted effort of experts, UNFPA officials, experienced and field based voluntary agencies. The master trainers did, in turn, impart training to 396 peer educators(Sakhee Sahelees) from 211 Adolescent Girls’ Self help Groups. The Sakhee Sahelees are now found occupied in sharing their learning to and sensitizing the peer groups in villages. One each Odiya training booklet containing the 5 chapters and the sub-chapters/lessons/sessions of the Girl Centric curriculum as well as the allied objects necessary for the sessions to conduct in a systematic progression and participatory manner, have been given, packed in a kit bag, to every Adolescent Girls’ SHG through the trained peer educators of its own.
Review–cum-orientation camps, structured pragmatically, are conducted monthly at cluster levels for the peer educators; the project staffs make an assessment of the educators’ involvement, appraise their performance and development and give inputs as necessary on the areas of improvement. They, at the same time, take the opportunity to express gratitude to and praise Sakhee Sahelees for their invaluable commitment to the cause of the adolescent girls. The process of empowering the adolescent girls has principally been peer-educator driven. The review meetings tell that the peer leaders are enthusiastic and their voluntary engagement in peer education is making fair headway. Monthly staff meetings too are held, progress, reviewed and plans of action, chalked out as per backlogs, needs and the targets set. Panchayat coordinators have designed weekly work calendars to move forward on their duties assigned towards the materialization of the project’s vision of “a transformed Adivasi community where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, every young woman’s potential is actualized and aspiration, fulfilled”.