Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatane (JMS)

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chilipili school

Chilipili Child Labourer’s Special School

All children have the right to be in school and right to be educated
No child should be denied the opportunity for a meaningful education
because of social and economic inequalities.
Education should ignite within the children the possibility to radically
transforming their economic political and social situation
Education should lead to increased opportunities for dignified.
employment, which provides a decent standard of living
The state is constitutionally obliged to educate all of its citizens however,
the mainstream system mirrors social inequalities, creates a sense
of being lesser among the children of Dalit communities.

CHILIPILI SHAALE– an alternative school for Dalit Children in unfair-forced labour practice

Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan is a collective of Dalit Women Agricultural Laborers in Raichur district, Karnataka State of India. It is a People’s Organization which the Dalit Women formed for increasing their collective social bargaining power, asserting their rights with dignity and empowerment. This collectivization process has created a platform for the Dalit Women of Raichur District to address their issues through collective political consciousness and collective strength to address issues relating to their own entitlement and dignity. This process also addressed another important issue- that of liberating their own children from child labour and bonded labour. This was towards preparing a generation of Dalit children who are also capable of addressing issues of injustice and inequity that their families especially their mothers face. Hence, CHILIPILI Child Labourers’ Special School concept evolved and through conscious efforts it was integrated into a government programme called National Child Labour Project.

Raichur district has more than 50,000 child laboures (children out of school) and many of the children are into ‘pledged’/’forced’ labour, a form of bonded labour. JMS realized quite early that due to number of factors, the children of the women in Sanghatan were working as child labourers in the farms of the land lords. Hence the child labourers school was started much early. The school named ‘Chilipili Child Labourers’ Special School’, used the pedagogy of conscientising education of Paulo Freire and the schools were shifted from village to village every two years, training and mainstreaming children from surrounding villages. This has been recognized as one of the model schools in the district by the National Child Labour Project and has been converted as residential schools.

The Evolution and foot-steps so far: Chilipili Shaale (as the school came to be known) was started in the year 2000. The objective was to create a space ‘to be’, ‘to dream’ and ‘to hope’ for the children who are school drop out, grazing cattle, working as agricultural labourers, bonded labourers etc. The school was set up in the Dalit settlements to make it acceptable to the community, in their own community halls. An alternative pedagogy was adopted; like to learn concepts of measurement, children would measure the streets in the village and write the distance from the school, weights were learnt at the shop, counting was done by counting the number of electric poles etc. It was very significant to see that these children were very intelligent and outsmart their counterparts in the formal schools through their practical experience and knowledge of crops, seeds, goats/sheet, cattle, birds and plants etc. The learning interstingly integrated their struggles and experiences with some skills. The children were exposed to different forms of village livelihood systems that existed within the village, they understood that apart from education derived from the books different skill set like the barber, the basket weaver, the shop keepers, farmer, animal rearer were also essential.

The Chilipili Shaale moved from one village to the next village, either after one year or two. At the end of 2 years the children were prepared for integration into the relevant standard/class in the village formal school. Since the last 7 years more than 200 children have been thus mainstreamed, Significantly in some cases children with 2 years of training were ready for getting integrated directly into 8th standard. The students of CHILIPILI, Shantamma now studies in 11th, Rekha and Gangamma (all three from Tadakal village, Manvi Tq.) are now in 10th std. Similarly Hanumantha, Mayamma and Nagraj (all 3 from Byagwat village, Manvi Tq.) were such intelligent children working as child labour that after two years of studying in CHILIPILI were enrolled in 8th standard and are now 10th std.

Chilipili Shaale is a model school in Raichur District and since December 2007 has been converted it into a residential school for 50 Dalit children. This is an added opportunity to mould the lives of child labourers and give them hope and lives of dignity.

Special Features of the School – Opportunities: The school has been integrated under the project of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) under the Ministry of Labour Governemt of India. The advantage of this integration is that there is recognition of the school for mainstreaming the children in the formal school in for the appropriate class. Chilipili Shaale is a bridge programme to wean the child out of unfair labour practice and provide a safe space for her growth and confidence. Further to build the required skills and integrate them into to the formal school. Hence, it is a great responsibility to make the child feel at home, teach them and make learning fun and appropriate for them to make them interested enough to join a formal school. Chilipili Shaale is managed by three good teachers, who are friendly and believe in joyful learning and teaching.

Chilipili Shool for the child labourers – a school that breaks myths: The twin principles on which teachings in our child labour school were based on: instilling in children creative expression and a questioning seeking mind. Teaching material and content was developed keeping in mind that these children are bright and have already’ had rich life experience, language skills and tremendous knowledge of the natural environment in a real sense. Therefore, in every subject teachers tried to start with what the children already know and the effort was to explain concepts through their own life contexts. Many of the children had barely studied ‘or never studied at all until arriving at Chlliplli. After one year in the school all the students are either at the 5th, 6th and some even to 8th standard level. From 2000-2008 about 300 children have been mainstreamed in the government schools with hostel facilities. There are about 10 children who have already passed 10th standard and a few of them are pursuing their college studies. The myth or bias that the Dalit Children are not meritorious or have no capacity to study is constantly broken by these children who challenge our concept of education itself. These children have redefined and redesigned education in Chilipili school as education for life.

Details of the Children mainstreamed in to Government schools from the Chilipili Child laborers special schools
Sl. No Year Village No of children attending No of students mainstreamed
Boys Girls Total
1 2000-2001 Markadinni 50 9 11 20
2 2001-2002 Thoranadinni 50 8 12 20
3 2002-2003 Thadakal 50 5 21 26
4 2003-2005 Byagavata 50 14 24 38
5 2005-2007 Bagalavada 50 19 19 38
6 2007 (June – Dec) Umboli Hosur (6 months) 50 50
7 2008-2009 Potnal 50 7 7 11
8 2009-2010 Potnal 50 23 23 50
Total 400 85 118 253