A Community Initiative: Leadership Development and Training Center

“If children are denied education and their rightful freedom, there is little point in priding ourselves on being the world’s largest democracy, having regular elections, the ability to change our Government and access to court of law…”,
-Mr. Kailash Satyrathi, Nobel Laurate for Peace

As soon as the school breaks for the day, the children cheer and run towards their home to munch their lunch. They freshen up and pick up their bags go to the Leadership Development & Training Center (LDTC) to spend the next two hours doing homework and revising their chapters. It was not the same earlier; children in Dande village, Attari would play in the fields from dawn to dusk and hardly anybody cared about their studies and secure future. The parents who are majorly illiterate had a little to offer their children to help or encourage them in their education.

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DBSS Amritsar had been working in Attari on the issue of Livelihood, Social Security Schemes, Domestic Violence & Caste Based Atrocities and Bonded Labour. Special focus was given on the issues of education of the children. It is the education which empowers, unite and enable the people to identify the forces responsible for inequality and injustice in the society.  Self Help Groups, Youth groups, Community Based Organizations and People’s Organizations were formed in the community to address these issues by creating awareness in the community, empowering them and building their capacity on different aspects.

There are schools in every village and different schemes have been implemented like mid-day meal and scholarships for the students from minority (dalits) communities. But a closer look to these schools shows the absence of proper infrastructure, teaching materials, basic amenities and adequate number of teachers. The Youth Group and the Self Help Groups had come together couple of times to discuss these issues with the Sarpanch and village leaders. These community groups and people’s organizations are working together with the school management to improve the quality of education.

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The village leaders, members of the SHGs and youth group met with the Government school employees and have demanded to conduct the School Management Committee meeting with all the members. The meeting still needs to be conducted. The members of groups and village leaders realized that to rectify the issues in the Government schools will take a long run and meanwhile their children should be mentored and provided help in studies.  They identified educated people among themselves to help and mentor their children. The SHGs and Youth group in these villages took up the responsibility to initiate and manage these centers.

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At present, out of 15 intervention villages in Attari, 12 villages have LDT center and approx. 30 children are present in a center on a daily basis, which covers approx. 400 children in total. The members of the respective SHGs manage the children, while the identified educated person in the village help the children in their studies. The DBSS Amritsar’s intervention in the community in terms of capacity building, providing awareness, empowering, guiding and supporting them in the past years has successfully resulted in this community initiative. The DBSS Amritsar has achieved its goal in leading the community to take initiative for the betterment of their own community by mobilizing themselves and by using their own resources.

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