Stories from the field

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From the work area of the Sahyog Community Coordination Network (CCN)

The village of Vantherba is situated in the hilly terrain of Kimudupalli Panchayat, in Pedabayalu Mandal of Visakhapatnam. The village is inhabited by the Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) of Andhra Pradesh. It has 26 school going children (12 boys and 14 girls).
For the last one and a half decades, there was no school in the village or in the nearby villages, resulting in low literacy in Vantherba. Five years ago, the government established a GVVK School at Cheduput village nearby, where 10 students from Vantherba could study up to the 4th or 5th standard. However, most of them dropped out soon after beginning. The villagers say that the main reason for dropouts is the unavailability of high schools nearby. Due to geographical barriers such as high hills, streams, and cultural barriers, intra-village conflicts and livelihood problems, the children remained out of school.
Sahyog Community Coordination Network (CCN) is a voluntary organization working for indigenous tribal development for the last seven years. It has promoted a cluster level youth organization called Community Coordination Team (CCT). As part of the preparation for developing the villages, CCT in July 2009 had undertaken a survey of school less habitations and identified Vantherba as one lacking schools. On the basis of the survey, CCN came forward to realize the dream of the villagers by establishing a school called the UDAY KIRAN School (so named by the community). Thirty children were admitted in the first batch, and an average 26 children are currently studying in this school.

The community not only played an important role in establishing this school, but continues to manage the school on a day-to-day basis. It sponsors midday meals for all the school children, with each family from the community contributing one glass of rice per day irrespective of whether they have children in the school or not. The community also participated in hut and boundary construction for the school through voluntary labour, while the Sarpanch contributed Rs. 1500/- from the Panchayat Fund for construction of the school hut. Each family of the village contributes Rs.100/- per annum, and 10 kgs of grain during Jan/Feb for the school. An amount of Rs. 3500/- has been accumulated so far. This contribution augments the remuneration for teachers on an annual basis.
Mr. Killo Kames, who is from the same village and has studied upto 10th standard was appointed a teacher, even though there is a “Vidya Volunteer” as per government provision. The villagers are not happy with the Vidya Volunteer: “The Vidya volunteer is irregular and does not teach well. He comes only for the mid-day meal, meant for the children, to fill his stomach.”

Today, Vantherba’s break from the past is visible: the local village children attend school regularly.A request has come in from the neighbouring village of Goduguput for CCT to establish a similar school in this village, even though there already is a government school there. CCT has also managed to mobilize the support of the village Sarpanch. The Sarpanch  now attends all CCT Sangam meetings and regularly visits all schools in his jurisdiction, looks into the mid day meals arrangement and  submits reports regularly to the Project Officer, ITDA, Paderu recommending necessary action. 

Clearly, CCT’s efforts have borne fruit.

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