“Service to Mankind is the highest form of religion“
“Poverty is the worst form of violence”
“Make us worthy O’ Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.”
THE MUSAHAR COMMUNITY
possibly the most exploited and poverty stricken
The Shoshit Seva Sangh was launched on July 16, 2005, with the objective of providing quality education to the poorest of the poor. Among the vast poverty ridden population of Bihar the most exploited and deprived is the Musahar community. They are landless labourers living in grinding poverty and sub-human conditions for centuries. Many among them are like bonded labourers living in ghettoes in the outskirts of the villages in Bihar. The SSS believes that conventional education coupled with vocational training will help break the vicious cycle of poverty. Musahar children so equipped need not necessarily chase white collar jobs, and will not only become self reliant and self employed, but also create employment, particularly for other members of their community.
APPALING LITERACY LEVELS
AMONG THE MUSAHAR COMMUNITIES
99.5% of the musahars are landless, and literacy among them is the lowest hardly – 3%. Musahars are the darkest spot in Bihar’s literacy drive. They will take 4,419 years to secure 100% literacy. This will plague Bihar for years. For centuries musahars have worked as bonded labourers. Historical records suggests that they were forced into crime by landlords and mahajans. Deprived of hope and opportunity musahar youth have also joined the ranks of the naxalities in Bihar particularly in central Bihar. Musahar children only know poverty, and have an aimless existence.
A FUTURE –
The best gift to a Musahar child
As the literacy levels are extremely low, only young children can be selected and admitted to Nursery or Class- I. Moreover, they have to be put in the hostel as there is no environment or facility at home for studies. The SSS provides for their tuition, boarding, lodging and other necessities. SSS, in partner ship with Samadhan, has established the Shoshit Samadhan Kendra, with a view to impart quality education coupled with vocational training. It is expected that many of the students passing out from this school will successfully compete for slots in institutions for higher learning. However, provision will also be made for training in various crafts such as carpentry, auto repair, computer, plumbing, electrical repair, etc. Children passing out with a high school degree, highly skilled in these vocations, will be able to breakout from the cycle of poverty. If the facility of quality education is given to sufficient number of students of the Musahar community on a continuing basis, it shall change the profile of poverty in due course.
A SILENT REVOLUTION
If the benefit of quality conventional education coupled with vocational training is made available to Musahar children, not in hundreds but in thousands, in a matter of a decade or two, it will give new life, not only to these children, but with their support, to the entire families of this unfortunate community. This admittedly is a long haul project, but then its impact will be permanent, and change the profile of poverty particularly in the villages of Bihar in due course. What has not happened over centuries can be achieved in a matter of couple of decades, if sufficient support is extended to the project of SSS.
QUALITY EDUCTION IS THE KEY
The Shoshit Samadhan Kendra is a fully free English medium residential school which within four years of its existence has 350 children.
Presently (2015), the school, Shoshit Samadhan Kendra has 350 students all living in the school hostel. It is planned to increase the number by 50-55 each year. As there is lack of both literacy and education in this community almost all the new admissions will be in the pre-school class (UKG). Even those children who are studying in 5th and 6th classes of the government village school under the Serva Shiksha Abhiyan, are not fit enough to join class 1 or class 2. Therefore, the numbers of students in the school can only be increased gradually. Shoshit Seva Sangh plans to build capacity to have 1000 students in the fully free residential school by 2020. Presently the ratio between the taught and the teachers is 1:20.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
The vision of the project is to bring about a silent revolution in the musahar community, which has lived in sub-human conditions for centuries. It will not be enough to give the children brought under the project proper schooling. To enable and empower these children to make a quantum jump in life, and become a catalyst of change within their community, it will be absolutely essential to se e them through higher education in reputed institutions of the country. Hopefully, many of them shall compete into professional courses, such as computer software, medicine, engineering, law, accountancy, etc. run by recognized institutions. Those who can’t, will be given vocational training, which will ensure decent employment opportunities. The school, namely, the Shoshit Samadhan Kendra will have to parent these children till they reach their destined destination. The school has recently established a computer centre. Slowly, but surely, it will be imperative to create a corpus that puts the Kendra on a permanent footing – self sustaining with the necessary financial resources to achieve the silent revolution, which Shoshit Seva Sangh aspires to deliver.