IKP Foundation supporting organization: Rupantaran Foundation
The Sundarbans is a delta formed at the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra with the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh. It is the world’s largest mangrove forest area. The Indian part of the Sundarbans covers about 106 islands of which 50% islands are habitable and is part of the district of 24-Parganas (North and South). About 7% of the district population of 18.2 million (2011) are scheduled castes and overall, the communities are extremely poor with low literacy levels. The area is severely affected by the frequent cyclone and salt-water flooding. Poverty and gender inequality in Sundarbans make every second woman a child bride and one of the highest incidences of human trafficking of women and girls in West Bengal.
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Mousuni is in one of the islands of Sundarbans area of South 24-Parganas. Most of the children in this area are first-generation learners and do not perform well in free public schools where a teacher teaches 80-100 children in a class. Moreover, girls’ education is even more difficult considering the social belief that they are born to be part of another family after marriage. To encourage education, the State Government of West Bengal started a scholarship program for unmarried girls aged 13-18 years enrolled in classes 8-12. While the program is known internationally as an excellent concept to encourage education, it has some unintended drawbacks. In public schools, there is no examination for promotion from K to the eighth grade. This applies to all students including boys. So, there is no motivation in learning any subject. Bringing children to school is difficult but stimulating them with a meaningful education is more difficult. Lack of exams in classes K to eight is causing dropout when exams are introduced in classes 9-12. Almost half of the students could not complete grade 12.
A group of social workers in an organization named Rupantaran Foundation evaluated the problem and came up with a wonderful idea of helping the children with coaching support in classes 6 to 8. Dropout reduced with continuing class attendance up to 95%. The local community members provide free space. Other than coaching, Rupantaran motivates the education by periodic visits to the parents and discussing progress. This project helps the students of Mousuni village, 24-Parganas (S) to continue their education until high school completion. The Foundation also conducts sessions with children on issues related to child rights, ill effects of early marriage and child labor, gender-based discrimination, and social evils.
IKP Foundation support: Presently on hold for the year 2023.