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The New Age Moms Of Chhattisgarh’s Tribal Belt

They missed out on a complete education, but are making sure the next generation doesn't.

19/05/2017 1:07 PM IST | Updated 19/05/2017 1:07 PM IST
Eric Meola

Kanchan Kuwer is a busy young woman. When not toiling away in the urad dal fields, the 25-year-old spends time visiting homes in and around her own village of Kotmer in Chhattisgarh, urging parents to ensure their children attend school regularly.

Kanchan also presides over the School Management Committee in the village and has been instrumental in pushing parents to keep a check on their children's progress in school. She requests them to keep track of what their children are learning and to check their homework, and visits the school regularly in order to monitor the way teachers are teaching the children.

Although they could not continue their school education, these women have been empowered to give the next generation opportunities for a better life.

In addition, she guides parents on the importance of cleanliness and health. Today the women in the village follow Kanchan's advice diligently.

Kanchan, who has studied till Class 8, wanted to study further, but was unable to do so due to poverty in her family. Married at the early age of 17, Kanchan, who is the mother of three children, earns approximately ₹4000 every month through farming.

Similarly, Janki Patel engages with women from her own village to explain the benefits of education. Janki, who does odd jobs in the neighbouring fields, makes it a point to attend the School Management Committee meetings regularly. A school dropout herself, she wanted to become a teacher when she was young but visiting her 8-year-old child's school is as close as she can get to her dream.

Janki has six members in her family, and together they manage to earn a meagre ₹6000 per month through their main occupation of farming.

She has been member of the SMC since 2012, regularly attending meetings and giving suggestions. Janki discloses that often other women tell her not to interfere in their lives but she doesn't let this criticism bother her at all.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Chhattisgarh, in the village of Ludu Kheth, another young mother called Lata Rathiya is encouraging women to send their children to sports classes so that they become fit and active. Lata visits homes every alternate day to see that her advice is being taken seriously. At the local weekly markets she can be overheard discussing why sports and education go hand in hand. Lata shares that she was very active in sports during her school days. "Sports make one fit and I believe every child should participate in them along with studying other subjects. In our village, there is only one sports class and I insist that children go there after their school."

This Mother's Day let us salute Kanchan, Janki and Lata for working hard to ensure that the children of their villages continue to be in school.

Although they could not continue their school education, these three women have been empowered by CRY-supported partners in Chhattisgarh to give the next generation opportunities for a better life. Unfortunately, there are many children in Chhattisgarh who will not get this chance.

Chhattisgarh reports a 21% dropout rate after Class 8, which means one in every five children drops out after elementary education. This is much higher than the national average of 17%. This figure further rises among the tribal communities, particularly Scheduled Tribe students where one in every 4 children drop out after Class 8.

It is disturbing to know that although 90% of elementary schools in Chhattisgarh state are in rural areas, only around 54% of the children manage to finish their school education.

So this Mother's Day let us salute Kanchan, Janki and Lata for working hard to ensure that the children of their villages continue to be in school. Also let us also give them a gift—a lifetime commitment to create an eco-system that will give their children the chances they never had.

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