Mass Education in Action
BASIC EDUCATION FOR ALL

Mass Education undertook a comprehensive education programme known as “Basic education for all” to provide functional Pre-primary, Primary, Higher Secondary, Adult literacy and skills Training to its group members in urban and rural areas for poor.

Mass Education’s mandate is to improve opportunities for young children, street and working children aged zero to eighteen years living in circumstances of social, economic, and cultural and environment disadvantage. Children who are denied from their dignity, rights and equal opportunities from all spheres of life, their families and community they live in. This implies access of health care, education, social and economic justice, a sustainable natural environment and opportunities for self reliant of a child and his family as a whole.

Mass Education is concerned with young children’s overall development and therefore promotes and implements a holistic approach including education, health, nutrition and economic sustainability:

• Believes that the growth and development of a child depends upon his parents and therefore actively highlights empowerment of parents especially mother’s capacity to support them, to support their children.

• Gives high priority to participating approach, involvement of community in all process of development and decision-making, therefore actively promoted the need based programmes, which are initiated by the community for development.

• Also believes in creating people’s institution and local strength for sustainable development and therefore provides encouragement and skill training for building up local organisations, leadership capacity of resources and working in solidarity with networking.

Moreover, concentrating on the development of young children and their environment will have a preventing and lasting effect and will generate sustainable benefits.

School Support: In order to achieve the goal, Mass Education undertook to provide basic education, functional adult literacy skills to its group members and rendered educational facilities to their children through formal and non-formal primary schools run by Mass Education since the year 1978 and today 15000 children of age group 4 to 18 years are enrolled through our education project support.

Total 12 academic years of education are imparted to the children. Academic session of the school began in beginning of each year. They are taught basic numeric, literacy, along with arithmetic, history, geography, environment, science, social studies, hand work and extra curriculum. They learn songs, dance, mimes, sports, drawing, etc. to upgrade the physical and mental strength to integrate in the main stream. After the standard of Class-VIII, they are encouraged to attend technical education for skill development.

Campaign against early child marriage has influenced parents and the girls to continue their study until they become adult or become physically and mentally mature.

Child Protection Activities: Mass Education is running a child protection center at Atasura (35 km. away from Kolkata) for boys and girls. 500 children of age between 4-18 years are staying in the center. They are all from the family of most vulnerable situation of the urban areas. Most of the children are living in these centers who are come from difficult circumstances, sexually harassed, abused, children from sex workers either without or single parents. These children are provided with basic education up to the standard Class-X and followed with technical knowledge to learn about different livelihood trade so that when they are 18 years old and go out of the centers they can start small enterprise on their own to become self-sustainable.

Trained staff and teachers, not only to prepare them for basic education but also to make them improve their livelihood. To improve their psychosocial status and bring them in normalcy Mass Education provides ‘Joyful learning’ through councilling, cultural & sportive with practices and external exposures trip.

Exposure and social activities: Mass Education organizes “child to child programme”, under which cleanliness of city roads, village roads, canals, ponds, village school, even to clean their own homes are important activities. Plantation of trees on the roadside, canal side and in their own field is part of the environment education. About safe drinking water, use of compost manures, use of toilet, basic knowledge of hygiene and general knowledge of epidemics are given to the children through the school year so that they learn about the basic daily practical life.

In order the improve their physical and mental growth and cultural environment, Mass Education organizes cultural festival, annual sports, educational tour, drawing, essay and debate competition through out the year among the children.

Children’s Festival: Mass Education every year organizes children’s cultural festival. In each school for two days cultural festival are organised prior to the main festival. Around 3000 children participated in the massive gathering to perform their talents on art and sports activities. They lived together to share with their fellow friends and create public opinion” to be concern for the children”.

For broader awareness and campaign among the children and the public, Mass Education organise rallies, seminars, and workshops and publishes documents on the issue of children’s problems and their rights. Campaign to abolish child labour and protection of the children against all forms of child abuses are remain the main concern for the organisation

Kite Festival: Like each year Mass Education raises awareness against child labour, child trafficking, child abuse and fights for the rights of the children so that the civil society becomes aware and makes some steps towards the development of the children.

On 17th September 1000 children gathered at the Maidan (Ground) opposite to Victoria Memorial of Kolkata city to express solidarity with each other. Children from different parts of Kolkata slums, street and the villages come together to express their rights to enjoy, play, study and be in the mainstream like other children.  Most of these children were from the difficult circumstances. Many of them are working in the restaurant, factory, and houses, packaging industry and even making kites, which they never have the opportunity to fly.

Education Tour: Children and teachers together are exposed to do village survey, visit to natural forest, hills, seaside, town or big city, development centres, industry etc. to gain broader knowledge about the society. As part of educational tour, such tours are organized several times in the year.

Technical Training: Teachers are brought in the month of May, June & July to undergo teachers training for seven days each in order to share the experiences and learned new techniques to improve education methods so that the quality education is imparted.

Youth Camps are held where youths came in groups in the workshop to share their teenage problems and how to improve their skills and knowledge about social activities.  Adolescent problem and the need for higher education combined with technical education were also discussed. Young children and adults are provided with skill training on various trades so that they can be independent to start on their own enterprise to combat poverty and be self-sustainable.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Education alone cannot bring changes unless there is sufficient scope for employment and income generation opportunities. Mass Education facilitated the self-employment process to make the poor men and women economically self-reliant and help them attain a respectable social standing. This programme was initiated with the help of micro-credit both in urban and rural areas of West Bengal. Income generation includes agriculture, livestock, fisheries, sericulture, and apiculture, regeneration of environment through nursery, social forestry, small trading, cottage industry, hawking and many other nature of business, which generates income for the poor at the same time.

For empowerment of people’s initiatives and organisation : Mass Education encouraged the poor to build basic groups of SHG’s and network of SHG’s at the block and district levels, so that they can fight united against the forces of under development and poverty. SHG groups are expending from block to block and district to district with the support of NGO’s. Mass Education also helped built a strong network of small NGO’s, in order to strengthen the groups, Mass Education offered various human and skill development training to the rural and urban groups to build their capacity and raise their level of awareness so that they can become the active participants in their own community development. Several courses are organised during the year for enhancing the level of consciousness.

Women’s empowerment: In support to that, Generating income for the family, women played an important role, which Mass Education encouraged to implement the programme successfully. Beside that, Mass Education worked diligently to reduce gender disparity at its own home and in the society at large. In all spare of Mass Education activities women became the primary focus.

Livelihood Business Grant: Mass Education provides micro-enterprise finance to several young entrepreneurs to start their own business/trade and productive unite for their sustainability. Before providing financial support, they are given training on the appropriate trade they wished to start. Funds are provided ranging from Rs. 5,000 to 25,000 depending upon the trade and the asset needs to be developed. Even up to Rs. 1,50,000 grant assistance are made to improve livelihood.

Rainwater harvest: The rainwater-harvesting project launched in the beginning of the year 2005 and going on. To excavate and re-excavate the pond for rainwater harvest in the Sundarbans region where water for any use is the major crisis. Not only for drinking but also for the use of agriculture, animal feeding and domestic uses. On the other hand, people are not aware of the water management or to store water for the various purposes.

In this case Mass Education organizes several awareness camp, seminar and has produced the reading materials on water management. Rainwater harvest activities create employment, food security and other multifarious activities for the people to improve their livelihood. Activities like vegetable Cultivation, fishery, duckery, and plantation increases the life in the family to generate income opportunities. Also the member of the family gets access of water for their daily domestic uses.

During this period 10 ponds have been excavated. More are initiated by the Sundarbans Development Affairs, Government of West Bengal. Through Mass Education, the SDB has approved 500 such ponds to be excavated for Rainwater harvest.

HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT IMPROVEMENT

Mass Education initiated health education, primary and secondary health care and health infrastructure development activities, such as conducting of health awareness campaign, running of clinics, hospitals, providing ambulance services, management of pulse-polio and routine immunization campaign and distribution of de-worming tablets to control intestinal parasite for school going children in our project area. Mass Education also works to provide low-cost latrines, clean and pucca roads, ponds, catch water dams and also general infrastructure development of villages ME also organises solid waste management, providing safe drinking water, campaign against arsenic contamination were the key activities undertaken to support and good health campaign for the poor.


Drinking Water: Up until now, safe drinking water is the main problem in most of the areas in Sundarbans because of salinity and other geological problem and also in West Bengal in general for uncontrolled usages of chemical pesticides and fertilizer in agriculture. Until March 2006, 10 deep tube-wells have been sunk and many more applications from the community are pending because of paucity of funds the project could not be completed, however, ME will continue to sink more deep tube wells for drinking purpose. Meetings are held on water management and mobilizing the community including women and children to make them aware about the use and storage of water. As a result children and population in general are not getting frequently ill and their general health has improved a lot.

Sanitary Latrine: Poor sanitation and lack of sanitary latrine are another big problem and challenges in the rural areas. 98% people use open field for the defecation, which are the major causes for fesses–to-mouth and other water borne and communicable diseases. In order to prevent them, Mass Education has started construction of latrines for each family. Mass Education has target to provide 50,000 latrine slabs by the next coming years. This programme is also creating an employment opportunities for the local mason and plumbers.

Awareness on use of Sanitary Latrine and Health & Hygiene are spread out through wall writing, distribution of handouts, songs and drama and schools. This has resulted to better health & hygiene situation in the community. Sanitary latrines have been made in the villages of Joynager, Magrahat, Mandirbazar, Patharpratima, Kakdwip and Usthi Blocks of South 24 Parganas district. Low cost sanitary slabs are distributed in association with the District Health and Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal.

Solid waste Management: (MEKUP) Though Mass Education’s main thrust is rural development; it is also implemented urban environment improvement and poverty alleviation by conducting several activities in the city of Kolkata. Slum improvement and pavement dwellers and homeless people of Kolkata remain the primary target of (MEKUP) Mass Education Kolkata Urban Project. People who lived there are provided with employment generation activities along with education, health, sanitation and resettlement activities, and solid waste management created tremendous scope of job opportunity for the poor rag pickers and of the urban poor. Mass Education is implementing all the activities successfully, since the year 2001. In order to run the vast activities of Mass Education requires financial help from urban bodies development banks and multiple donors; motivation; training and sustainable plan without which this unique programme just cannot survive. Therefore, Mass Education emphasises on staff development, introduction of information technology system and long term sustainable approach to improve MEKUP.

Mass Education becomes one of the major players in providing waste management services in and around Kolkata. More and more private companies and corporate houses are taking our services. Not only for waste management but also for maintaining their housekeeping, security and by providing transports services. As part of our campaign within the business community, civil society and among the corporate sector towards social responsibility, many of them are coming forward to take this service in order to help and generate employment opportunities and complete control of engagement of child labor. The profits earned from the services are used for different education programmes run by Mass Education.

COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE AND RELIEF

School building: Each of the Mass Education School in the community is repaired before the monsoon, new furniture’s and fittings are supplied to several schools. Floors, doors and windows are fixed. This work done after the request made by the local bodies.

House repair: Mass Education helped 100 families to repair their houses during the monsoon. They are provided tiles, bamboos and other building materials to repair the houses; some houses are made concrete with bricks. Many mud houses has been helped to make concrete floor to prevent damp, snake/rat holes, etc. and keep the house clean. At the time of disasters, 150 Polythene sheets were distributed to the poor family to cover the roof of the house.

Old age Support: Mass Education is running an old age home for aged persons at Atasura. Mass Education has found 500 old persons above 60 years who are neglected by their families and throughout without food and medicine from the project areas in the Sundarbans. Some of them are sleeping on the pavement and begging door to door for food. Most of them are tortured and isolated from the society. Nobody helps them even the State Government is not taking care of these old persons.

Relief for cyclone & floods: Each year flood, cyclone, drought, epidemic and man-made disaster is becoming common problem in India. Natural calamities are becoming more and more regular phenomenon of the earth today. Heavy extraction of the natural resources is the cause of such disaster.

Mass Education organizes relief camps during the natural calamities in Sundarbans and elsewhere. Tarpaulin, bamboo, tiles and other building materials were distributed. Food material, clothes also are distributed among the victims.

Development Tourism: Development Tourism is organised by Mass Education to create awareness among the foreign and national tourist regarding the environment improvement and employment creation through development tourism. Mass Education creates the opportunity for the tourist to discover the real situation and find out the options for development activities for the underprivileged. The earning from the programme goes to build latrines, tube wells, housing and schools for the community. Tourists and students of different country come for field placement and development Tourism. NGO workers from other countries also visit Mass Education to learn about the Panchayat system in West Bengal. Most of them are exposed to Mass Education project areas.

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