‘Ghar-Ghar chalo abhiyan’ for retention in schools in Karnataka

To ensure retention of fellow children in schools, Bal Panchayat children from traditionally disadvantaged villages in the Bandipur forest in Karnataka are going from door to door with slogans and stickers. Labelling this the ‘Ghar Ghar Chalo Abhiyan’, children are asking the house elders to send their child to school and abolish child labour and child marriage in Mangla village. Outside each house that they visit, they paste a sticker announcing- ‘Our Home is Child-Labour Free’, for all to see and emulate. A key role of Bal Panchayats in every BMG is to ensure that every child goes to school. While they lead the 'School Chalo Abhiyan' beginning July to enroll all children in schools, they also carried out the ‘Ghar Ghar Chalo Abhiyan’ to ensure retention in schools. Overall, Bal Panchayats with help from other stakeholders in the village and from BBA activists have managed to enroll 840 children in schools across 100 villages, in 5 states.
The residents of Mangla village bordering the forest area have traditionally been uneducated and dependent on forest reserves for their survival. The land that they’d been allotted by the government was usurped by educated and crafty landlords from nearby and they were forced to work as bonded labourers on their own land. While the children were also forced to work along with adults in the farms, the landlords also took them to work in other farms in neighbouring states.
When BMG activists began activities in this area five years ago, there was a severe problem of communication as these tribal villagers did not know any other language other than their own dialect. Over time, with regular efforts and help from other local villages, forest department officials and local government officers, BMG activists have been able to build awareness among the community on the importance of education and the ill-effects of child labour and child marriage. With consistent efforts and constitution and participation of an active Bal Panchayat, the school enrolment in Mangla has increased to almost 100% and retention to 90%.
This year is the first time that children from this tribal village are attaining senior education; a long way from complete illiteracy till a few years back. Several students are the first generation in their family history to have ever attended a school. It is these children who are now going door to door to bring all fellow children in their village to school. Mangla village is yet another example of a successful Bal Mitra Gram intervention model, where social change has been brought about by awareness building and community participation.