PREM and Plan International
(India) have had long-standing collaborative multifaceted interventions along
all domains of human life such as health, education, livelihood, habitat, water
and environmental sanitation(WES), rights of the child, children’s
participation in governance, gender equity and so on. The PREM-Plan project, as
is the joint effort called, has children at the heart of everything that it did
and that it does. Otherwise, it deploys a’ Child Centered Community Development’
Approach. The project has been working with the weaker sections of the society,
namely, the SC, ST, Fisher and other poor communities that have suffered
social, economic and political exclusion for centuries.
The period between 1996 and 2012 witnessed a mega project that reached out to more than fifty thousand children with formal education, professional and vocational courses and English medium schooling. Acres of land had cash crops. Shrimp farming and pisciculture, animal husbandry, vegetable cultivation and entrepreneurship of varied sorts by women’s SHGs got boosted up. Care of expectant and lactating mothers, home based care of infants, early childhood education, consolidation of school cabinets and girl children’s associations (Meena Manch) and gender sensitization arrested abundant attention and encouragement. Eco-san toilets, separate toilet blocks with running water facilities in selected schools for both boys and girls, and water harvesting structures constituted the WES interventions. Orientation on child rights and child protection followed by formation/activation of children’s clubs, youth associations and the campaign on BIAAG (Because I Am A Girl Child) inter alia formed part of the movement towards the realization of child rights.
Within the last three years, PREM
in collaboration with Plan India is involved in a scholarship project for the
secondary education of children from the deprived communities. 952 girls and
179 boys have been supported under the project. Inaccessibility and unsafe
journey to schools in Gajapati district accounted for hostel/residential
support to 452 girls and 179 boys from the district. And hostel has so far
proved to have been the best learning hub for children from interior, forest
and hilly areas. 500 girls of Scheduled caste and fisher communities from Puri
district obtained financial support for coaching, which has today been
inevitable to gain class appropriate competency. This is in view of the fact
that the standard of education in rural schools is far below average quality.
Consequently education today has been coaching driven as it were.
The project has several linked activities of much significance and bearing upon the children. The activities like training of teachers on the updates in 3 critical subjects such as Science, Mathematics and English, 8 days’ long exercise in unit tests and remedial/clarification sessions and provision of test papers containing probable questions did contribute to children’s learning. Training on Adolescent’s Reproductive and Sexual Health and Career Counselling are part of the project outline and have effected brain storming, self-introspection, maturity in thought and behavior, prevention of early sex and marriage and opting out career of their own interest, desire and capacity and advancement in studies. Meetings of School Management and Development Committees are held in order to build critical awareness on the structure, roles and responsibilities, the schemes/facilities meant for schools so that inclusion, availability and accessibility to schools, quality education, positive discipline, and above all, caste, class and gender equity are in place in the field of education. There is a provision of science lab in model schools to make the study of science subjects easier to understand.
District wise Alumni meet of the children supported from both Gajapati and Puri districts have already taken place at St.Vincent’s Retreat House, Gopalpur-on-Sea on the 14th & 15th of July, 2015. 400 selected children from among the total 1131 did participate in it. It was a joyful ending of project for the children. They sang, danced and made merry. Besides it was an opportunity of project evaluation. 12 high ranking children gave testimonies on the project’s interventions as having helped them and their friends progress in studies, perform better in exams and build their lives and career but for which things like failure in exam, dropping out of schools, early marriage, distress migration and struggle amidst exploitation would have been their lot. DR. Jacob, Thundyil, president, PREM, Dr.Chacko Peruvanani, secretary, PREM and Mr. Arun Chand Dash, a retired head master, inter alia, motivated children, through their inspiring speeches and interaction, to be integrated personalities, with systematically built careers, lofty ideals, and humanitarian attitude in helping others the way they had been helped.