Inception & Progress with SMC & Parent Association

  • Way back in 1997, within two months of coming to a village community, a large meeting of parent could get organised on how to improve the education of children through better functioning primary school. In another school an adamant teacher was forced to join such meeting and respond to parents’ query. These two villages were Ambedkar village (having SC community in larger proportion) and belonged to most deprived block of Rae Bareli in these villages.  Thus the foundation of Lokmitra engagement with community for education got laid. By June 2011, in pre RTE SMC era, Lokmitra had promoted about 500 SMCs in 7 rural Blocks & two urban areas. These SMCs were exclusively of parents (about 15) and had no formal positions like Chairpersons.
  • With the understanding that for systemic change, power equation needs to be influenced at local and higher level as well, idea of Parents Collective emerged in 2002.
  • Mobilising community (Parents, Guardians & others) through collectives started in 2003 when three Cluster level Collectives were promoted in 20 Gram Panchayat of Deeh Block after identifying select group of men and women based on their solidarity and expressed strength (by some initiative). This was done in parallel to another initiative to promote the collective of Brick Workers (Firemen Families). Background of this was that Lokmitra found little scope in working through VEC (with three parents as nominated member). Further there was little scope through SHGs.
  • By the end of 2004 work spread to 13 Cluster level Parent Association (in about 60 GPs of 4 blocks. CPAs were meeting every month. In Deeh, Block level Parent Association got initiated with bi-monthly meetings. They got the opportunity to interact with Prof. Krishna Kumar & Sri Yogendra (BODH)
  • In 2005 with Draft RTE Bill in public, experimentation with SMC (exclusively of parents) started. By 2006 School Management Committee (SMC), got evolved in 36 schools. Block Level Parent Association (BPA) got spread to two adjoining blocks. But BPA had representation from limited area of Blocks (about 20% GPs).
  • During 2006, Idea and Practice of SMC of parents & its Federation as Parents Association got further developed. And apart of doing local advocacy, PA and Lokmitra started getting more confident to influence the wider political process. During Parliamentary bi-elections in which Ms. Sonia Gandhi was seeking re-election, a strategic use of the occasion was made by raising the issue of enacting Right to Education Bill.  About 30 members of Parents Association actively joined in ‘Voters Awareness Campaign’.
  • Parent Association members effectively participated in Block level Joint Planning & Review Meet in June 2005 & in Public Hearing program at district level in Nov 2006.
  • State level advocacy for quality elementary education for all children of Uttar Pradesh started in 2006 with a convention of parents from 10 districts in Lucknow.
  • In the initial stage Parent Association & community made local specific effort with adjacent schools. Ensuring free & fare enrolment was their major concern in which much progress was achieved. They talked to teachers, individually & collectively in meets, asked Panchayat representatives to take interest in school affair, motivated parents to send children to school regularly. Sometime even provided helping hand to school by voluntarily teaching is school, constructing class-rooms with local materials, decorating classrooms. In many school Parent Teacher meeting has become regular & effective. Slowly they have moved to larger & collective issues of teacher shortage resulting from irrational distribution & problems of teacher truancy not being handled locally. Collective petition & lobby has been done with district & block officials on a few occasions.  Orientation on Pedagogy enabled them some of PA members to effectively dialogue with teachers & Coordinators on teaching methodology.
  • Thus a firm model of advocacy, right form school to district & state, based on active involvement of parents & deprived women & men has got initiated. This will enable us to move forward with confidence to achieve long-term objective Education Program that all girls and boys of Uttar Pradesh of 3 to 14 age get quality early childhood development opportunity and eight years of quality school education without any discrimination.
  • Advocacy events for enactment of RTE Bill, in 2008 and 2009 by inviting political parties, distinguished persons (Vinod Raina). Campaigns during Assembly, Parliamentary & Panchayat Elections were initiated to make the demand for Education with contestants and Political Parties.
  • By 2008, about 180 SMCs got promoted and supported in Six Blocks of Raebareli.
  • DHRUVTARA, An Innovative documentation on practice of Parent Association was developed and printed.