Enroll Every Last Child in School
Students and teachers of Rastriya Primary School of Khojpur, Saptari took out a rally on 26th April. The rally passed through villages and roads in order to remind parents that it’s time to send their children to school for the new school year.
The idea behind the rally is to find out of school children and bring them to school. According to Ministry of Education’s Flash I Report 2015/16, Saptari is one of the nine districts with more than 20% 0children out of school. Also, its Net Enrolment Rate is only 71.9% compared to national rate of 96.9% from grade one to five.
Rallies are one of the activities organized under the leadership of the government every year to enroll the children who are left behind. Save the Children supports these campaigns in many of the districts where it works. In these enrollment campaigns, district teams come up with creative and fun ways to inspire parents to send their children to school.
In Lalpur VDC of Kapilvastu district, child club staged a street drama about two siblings who are out of school as their father does not allow them to attend school and thinks it’s better for them to learn to do chores at home. The father also starts talking about getting them married. Child Club then interferes with the support of Village Child Protection Committee and enrolls those children to school. Club members also counsel their father.
Street dramas are a popular medium in Nepal for both entertainment and education. Parents and children throng to these performances. Child clubs also organize events with songs and speech to attract attention of the community. Through such activities, they make the community understand about the importance of education as well as the disadvantages of not sending children to schools.
Kapilvastu is also one of the districts with more than 20% out-of-school children and enrolment rate stands at 70% as per Flash I Report 2015-16. Last year Save the Children in Kapilvastu declared seven VDCs as “100% enrollment VDCs” and this year the ambition is to do the same in 19 more.
Other ways to capture attention is to play audio dramas, songs and slogans during the rally. This attracts not only the community but also the kids.
In the month – long campaign that happens every year, Child clubs, Village Child Protection Committees, schools and other stakeholders work together to remove barriers preventing school-aged children from attaining education, and ensure every child is going to school. Parents participate in home visits to convince fellow parents to send their children to school, emphasizing that educating a child is everyone’s responsibility.
As per Nepal Living Survey of 2011 showed the main reason children stay out of school is parents' awareness level and willingness to send them to school. The last few percentage of children remain out of school systems because they belong to mobile families, are disabled, are married off early or migrate to work.
During home visits, when the enrolment campaign group identifies a family that has not sent their kid/s to school, they counsel and encourage parents. They also make parents understand about the process of enrollment, documents needed, school fees and other details. The group also practices on-the-spot admission for children who have birth certificates. Many of the parents enroll their children to school after counselling.
A home visit team involving VCPC, community mobilizer of Save the Saptari (one of the implementing partners of Sponsorship program in Saptari), teachers and parents convinced 65 year old Sunar Bhagat to enroll his 4 year old grandson to school. Though Bhagat was thinking of sending his grandson to school, he had not yet enrolled him. The team enrolled the 4 year old to the school nearby.
Meanwhile in Achham, Baijanath Secondary School of Payal, organized a discussion program. Parents, teachers and children discussed low academic performance, low attendance rate and high drop-out rates of children from school. Achham’s enrolment rate is 69%.
In the discussion, parents accepted that they should do more to send their children to school, support them at home and follow up with the school regularly about their development.
Although the national average enrolment rate in Nepal is 96.9%, the cases of districts like Saptari, Kapilvastu and Accham show that there are still some pockets where number of children going to school is low and need special attention. Save the Children with the aim to reach the children away from school due to special reason coordinate with government to carry out the campaign each year.
Text: Ganga Pyakurel with contribution from Rupa Gautam and Pratima Kunwar
Photos: Save the Children