Education City of Dantewada District, Chhattisgarh
Dantewada is part of Red Corridor in central India. Because of Naxalite – Maoist insurgency this district suffers from problems like illiteracy, poverty, economic inequality. Excessive terrorism activity has caused one more problem that of several orphaned children, their education and upbringing. While this district being in the lap of nature has immense potential for developing tourism, the Dantewada district administration has taken up the development of locals equally seriously.
Amidst the various touring activities the district authorities there took us around “Education City” the pride of Dantewada District of Bastar region.
Brief History on Origin of Education City of Dantewada District
In 2010, IAS officer OP Chaudhary, who was then the Dantewada District Collector, believed education was a potent way to end the backlash of Maoist insurgency in the region. He introduced the concept called ‘Education City’ in Dantewada. It is a mega project in an effort of ‘making reach of education’ possible in the restive Dantewada region. The insurgents went about demolishing schools and ashram shalas (boarding schools), it was a challenge for the authorities to revive education there.
Two initial projects helped a lot. One the Tamana Express, where every day 150 children were brought from far flung areas to Dantewada district headquarters to show museums and watch educational films. And the other ‘Astha Gurukul’ for children of Maoist insurgency affected families through which the district administration got 25 per cent of seats reserved for these children in public schools of the district.
Tour of Education City Dantewada
Today his start-ups are functioning more vigorously. We were taken to their innovative projects.
Their Nanhe Parinde project ensures admission of deprived kids to schools like Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sainik Schools. This project offers residential facilities at district headquarter and children from interior villages belonging to marginalized background are provided special coaching for admission to next level schools.
The enrollment to classes 1st to 8th is huge, but this number drops down considerably for classes 9th to 12th combined. To tackle this they chose clusters of important junctions in the district. Educational Clusters were created by providing residential facilities to children from 9th to 12th standard. Such residential facilities helped in increasing and sustaining the enrolment ratio and also improved quality of education.
Choo Lo Aasmaan (Touch the Sky)
This project prepares students for professional courses like engineering, medical, polytechnic, nursing etc. We walked in to classes of enthusiastic girls and boys. Explaining one of the streams here: Several girls are trained in sewing, they are then offered placement on completion of training. Some are willing to go to distant cities. Those who adjust to new lifestyles flourish well. Even amounts as small as Rs.5000 that they send back home is a huge support for their families. Boys are trained to drive, plumbing and electrician works.
Pota Cabin Schools
They have used ply boards to rebuild schools. With all the schools destroyed in Dantewada, the authorities came up with these easy to set up structures on concrete base. I saw the hostel arrangements and classrooms set up in these structures. Often the senior students play a big role in grooming the younger kids.
They also have classroom on wheels through which they provide education in computers.
Saksham, school for specially abled children
This school has very high standards of facilities. We took a tour of their physio therapy room which has all modern tools. We saw a group of blind children involved in various musical instruments. Later they sang a song for us. It was a very touching experience for me. These students later performed in Barasur Mahotsav.