Kushinagar was once considered India’s most backward regions. An NGO is seeking to ensure a brighter future for girls through education in Kushinagar.
The people of Kushinagar have suffered from extreme poverty and gender-based discrimination since a long time. This town in Uttar Pradesh houses 40,000 people, but just 4,000 had been able to study beyond Class 8. But, a revolution in education is seen in Kushinagar, where a group of young girls have been heard screaming in union that they can do with half a meal but want a full education.
Kumari, Nisha, Puneeta and Pinky Kumari are four girls who led the group as they marched through the labyrinthine lanes of two villages in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, Shahpur Khalwapatti and Mishroli.
The four girls spearhead this sort of school-enrollment effort and are playing a key role in bringing about a big change in Kushinagar.
With the help of a local NGO, the Samudaik Kalyan Evam Vikas Sansthan (SKVS), or Community Welfare and Development Society, these young volunteers are attempting to take charge of their destiny and empower the next generation by pushing for equal educational opportunities.
Kushinagar, once considered one of India’s most backward places, is now emerging as a model example of community-led social transformation as a result of their efforts
A local social worker, Amarnath, who serves as the programme coordinator of SKVS, says, The tribal Musahar community makes up the majority of the inhabitants in this area. This community has been extremely marginalised for decades. They don’t have any land to grow, nor do they have a lot of education to take advantage of other chances. Even the ground on which their dwellings are built is not theirs. Historically known as the “rat-catching” group, they are said to survive on a diet of rats due to the extreme poverty. This has also led to the community’s marginalisation and discrimination.
In 2009, Amarnath and SKVS began working together to empower the Musahar community.
However, their findings quickly led them to the conclusion that, in addition to caste-based discrimination, the region was also plagued by gender-based discrimination and low literacy, both of which contributed to their poor socioeconomic condition. He adds that nearly 5 years ago, SKVS discovered that just 4,000 people out of a population of 40,000 in Kushinagar had completed Class 8.
This discovery prompted a concerted attempt to effect grassroots change, ushering in the launch of a localised intervention to educate the kids, particularly girls.
According to Amarnath, education and skill training are two of the strategies used by SKVS to assist people break free from the cycle of poverty and attain social equality. This Kushinagar-based voluntary organisation, led by seven Dalit women, has pushed for many causes such as land rights, women’s rights, and child rights as avenues for community development and empowerment.
Today, young girls in Shahpur Khalwapatti and Mishroli villages look up to Rinku, Nisha, Puneeta, and Pinky as role models who battled centuries-old social restrictions to secure a brighter and more equal future for girls.
With SKVS leading them, these young women organised two Kishori Sangathans, or young women’s collectives, and spearheaded the School Chalo Abhiyan, which touched hundreds of kids in ten villages across the region. Pinky and Rinku supervise activities in Mishroli, while Puneeta and Nisha oversee operations in Shahpur Khalwapatti.
During this initiative, the girls identified 216 student dropouts from the Musahar neighbourhood. While 103 were boys, the majority of the remaining 113 were girls.
Let us hope that SKVS succeeds in its mission of providing a brighter future for girls through education in Kushinagar.