In Uttar Pradesh deep-rooted feudal mindset doesn’t allow social democracy to germinate, leading to discrimination at all levels, including discrimination among various sub-castes of SCs & Muslims. Larger society in general does not feel the pressing need to give equal opportunity to children of socially excluded, assuming that they are expected to grow as menial worker and there is no need to provide formal education to them, less so the greater opportunity to address their multiple deprivation. In this back drop Lokmitra works for Children and Adolescents (young people), especially those belonging to Dalit (Scheduled Caste) and Muslim community. Lokmitra intends to provide them a better learning opportunity, mainly through schools and partially through other learning spaces. Only through suitable learning, children of deprived community & families can break the vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion. Lokmitra engages with teachers and parents as through them children’s need will be met. Apart from suitable learning opportunity in school and at home, children need care and protection. Uttar Pradesh has a very large population of children who have not completed about elementary education, as 65% dropout after grade 5. Most SC children come to govt schools (SC Children being 30% of total enrolment, while 21% in population). Share of Muslim children at 10% is less than population proportion (about 15%). OBC constitute 50% of enrolment (data source, DISE 2009-10). So through government schools, Lokmitra reaches out to larger number of SC, Muslim & poor OBC families.
There is need for change in policy and practice of parents, teachers and government. Towards that Lokmitra engages with public elementary education system at all level. Lokmitra engages with peoples’ representatives so that they are more sensitive towards issues concerning children’s education. Towards promoting collective voice and knowledge sharing, Lokmitra engages with NGOs, CSOs, mainly of Uttar Pradesh state. Lokmitra especially focuses on education Out of school Children, School Dropout and those needing support to continue school education, even up to secondary & higher secondary level.
Apart from reaching out to most districts of Uttar Pradesh through NGOs participating in activity of Basic Shiksha Manch, Lokmitra work directly in central & east region that is part of Awadh region (Awadhi being local dialect). Region belonged to the Raiyatwari system under British period and saw a major agitation by tenant against Zamindars in 1920s. Raebareli is one of the 250th most backward districts out of 640 districts. Raebareli is one among the 34 districts in UP receiving funds from Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme. According to the census of 2011 Raebareli has literacy rate of 69.04% which is below than literacy of India which is 74.04%. This region has been below on development index. Female Literarily in rural area in 2001 has been just 30%. Area has high proportion of SC population (30%). About 50% children would be from seasonal migrant labour families. From these families male of the household migrate, leaving women to manage the livelihood and take care of children. This is a distress seasonal migration due to landlessness and small size of holding. One such section of migrant families is of Brick Firemen who migrate to Brick Kilns, all over North India from the districts of Raebareli & Pratapgargh. Within the rural tract there are pockets of uneven farming activities. Poor families are forced to go far off for paddy harvesting, potato cultivation, affecting the education and care of adolescent girls and children. Due to this some children dropout or get pushed out of school. Muslim children, especially girls are sent to Madras, only some of them are attending formal school as well. Girls are generally withdrawn on the onset of puberty.
On health parameters Raebareli fares poorly with very high IMR (about 70) & MMR, low institutional delivery (24.3%). Children aged 12-23 months who were fully immunized are just 31.5%. Health status of Deeh & Chhatoh would be further worse
Chhatoh Block with (population of about 1 Lakh in 2001 had only 22% literate women. In this Block larger proportions are SC and Muslim (about 33% and 30%). Poor development of Chhatoh has been also due to poor infrastructure, poor land & land availability. Majority of poor seasonally migrate, worker in farm, Brick Kiln, etc. Gujjars are major community among Muslims and they lack in socio economic development. The Pasi and the Chamar constitute about 80% of SC community. About 70% of population is BPL. Deeh block, with population of 1.3 Lakh in has 30% SC population and female literacy of about 20% (census 2001).
Lalganj Block has a population of 1.2 Lakh with SC proportion being 23% (mainly Pasi and the Chamar). Muslims would be about 10%. Female literacy is just 30% (2001).
Lucknow City with a population of about 27 Lakhs has high proportion of Muslims (about 25%) and SCs are 21% (in the dist). But Muslim children constitute only 9% of enrolment & SC constitute 35% (in the dist). While 65% of Lucknow dist population is urban, only 20% primary schools are in urban area. There is critical lack of access to schools (30 wards without govt. schools). Most urban primary schools are massively overcrowded (with SCR>60 in 25% schools), with many rooms in need of repair and unsafe – inhospitable. Mean years of Schooling 7-16 age group Muslim 2.6 years, SC 3.1 years, and for all 3.4 years.
Slums in Lucknow constitute more than 10% of population, constituting of various type of migrant workers coming from Chhattisgarh, Terai region of UP, even from Bihar and Assam. Problem of education of children in urban slums are more divergent and complex considering as they have to bear with additional environmental, economic and phonological problems. In slums generally both parents are working so young children are left behind at homes in the care of elder siblings or sent to work as rag-pickers, workers at shops and roadside eating outlets, etc. Women take their adolescent girls with them for work so that they are not left behind alone at homes. The scope of participation of these communities in school governance is simply negligible.
Muslims belonging to Ansari, Baghban, Behna, Halalkhor, Kingharia, Kunjra and they are excluded by other Muslims. Muslims hesitate sending their daughters to co-educational school/college and there has been a Fatwa in this regard too which further discourages them.