A campaign in Northern Karnataka is drawing attention to the widespread desire for education on the part of young girls. Completing high school improves many aspects of a girl’s life, health and future, but a variety of barriers block the way, especially for girls from disadvantaged communities. Among many strategies to overcome these barriers, the Samata programme launched a campaign to generate awareness, discussion and support at village level.
The campaign includes jathas (rallies) and street theatre, focusing outreach efforts on vulnerable families who are more likely to remove their daughters from school. The Samata team from the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) routed the rallies to pass through the areas where families from scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) live.
Starting from the village school, each jatha passed through the entire village on foot, holding placards and chanting slogans with call-to-action messages on girls’ education. The jatha stopped mid-way at the village square within the SC/ST colonies. There, members of the gram panchayat (local government body) and school development management committee (SDMC) addressed rally participants and gathered villagers about girls’ education. The jathas then visited SC/ST families whose girls had not yet enrolled in 8th standard [the first year of high school] and encouraged them to send their girls to school.
“This jatha was very different from [other] campaigns. The jatha went to the interior village streets with SC/ST families and motivated the parents to send their girls to school.”
S. R. Patil, headmaster of B.A.K High School, Bijjaragi village, Bijapur District
A total of 8,501 community members from 41 villages, including 7,613 students, heeded the call to action for girls’ education. As well as mobilising large numbers, the jathas involved an impressive degree of collaboration between:
- community institutions
- local government
- education departments
- the Samata programme team
More than 100 local government representatives and officials from the Department of Education lent their support to the campaign.
“I thought jatha meant merely going around the village shouting slogans but today the KHPT team involved everyone in the village even the elected representatives. We specifically visited the SC/ST families whose daughters were not yet admitted to 8th standard.”
Dundappa Badiger, community volunteer, Herkal village, Bagalkot District
Over 50 per cent of the jatha participants were girls and women. Girls of different ages, numbering over 4,000, chanted slogans as they led the rallies:
“Send us to school and not to the fields”
“Education is power”
“Educate girls for a brighter future”
“Where should the girls be? In school.”
The rallies were reported in the local newspapers Vijaya Karnataka, Vijayavani and Samyukta Karnataka, which served to amplify their impact.
“All girls should go to school. These rallies will help reduce drop out.”
Veena Kolar, President of the Government High School’s School Development Management Committee (SDMC)