Radhika stands up for children’s right to education
Radhika Tharu, 45 from Fulika village joined Girl Education Advocacy Group (GEAG) almost 2 years ago. Growing up in a Tharu community – a marginalized ethnic indigenous community in Nepal, she never had a chance to attend school. So through this group she hopes to ensure that children from her village don’t have the same fate as she did.
IM with its partner SSDC helps in formation, capacity building and mobilization of GEAG at village level to identify school dropout children and sensitize children and their parents about the importance of education to reenroll them to school.
With GEAG, Radhika ensures that children have access to basic services in their schools which is often lacking from community school system in Nepal. For instance, due to lack of monitoring, teachers are frequently absent from classes or are not on time. Due to this, parents are hesitant to send their children to school. She shares, “if teachers don’t care whether children attend school or not then who will ensure that they are not skipping school.”
The school faced other problems such as lack of basic sanitation facilities in the toilets. Radhika shares, “We demanded a water tank for ladies toilet to make sure girl students could have access to water and that they didn’t have to go fetch water after walking for a long distance especially during their menstruation.” After installation of the water tank, girl students feel more comfortable attending school even during their periods. She adds, “I feel proud that I am doing my best to send the children to school. I used to be very shy but I have learnt to overcome my shyness and work for my community.”
The group is also working on organizing a rally campaign to reenroll drop out children to school. Members of children’s club will also be mobilized for the rally. Radhika travels around her village from door to door in her cycle talking to parents and ensuring each and every child has access to education. As children spend more time in school, they are less vulnerable to externalities such as child marriage, child labor, trafficking etc. The situation was similar for children in Fulika village. Radhika shares that the children learn from adults in their village to consume alcohol, gamble and consume tobacco. They start as early as 9 years of age. With the reenrollment program, children are safe in school. This year IM has been able to reenroll 75 children in community schools through its education program. Members of GEAG such as Radhika are playing important part in IM’s efforts to strengthen public school system and ensure sustained increment of enrollment especially amongst children from marginalized communities and girl children.