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Communities & PRI Development

For Bodh, communities are the most important stakeholder in any educational intervention. The emphasis is on facilitating community involvement and ownership wherein they can play the leading role in school development and management processes. Similarly, the work with the rural local self governing bodies or Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) is aimed at ensuring an enhanced understanding of their roles and potential for positive action. In the urban context, the local self governing bodies’ structure is not spelt out clearly – particularly for lower units of population. Here, then, there is an ever greater emphasis on community action which can spur processes of change.

The capacity development initiatives with communities focus on interactions and meetings at individual and group levels. Bodh teachers visit local communities daily. They interact with parents as well as other community members. These interactions become opportunities for sharing children’s progress and also initiating discussion on key issues. Monthly community meetings are also held. These are seen as important platforms for discussing the school’s functioning and other critical aspects. Community members are encouraged to share their experiences and opinions. All major decisions are taken at such meetings. Structured workshops/special meetings on specific issues are also conducted as and when required.

The mother teachers working in bodhshalas and select government schools (in the urban and rural programme areas) are another significant community resource. Women in the age group of 20-35 years are selected. They undergo a 21 day training which prepares them for undertaking their role of conducting pre school groups (children in the age group of 3-5 years). The residential training emphasises the value of their own community knowledge and practice base regarding child care. Inputs are provided to facilitate enhanced understanding of different developmental aspects, specific benefits of various activities etc. Mother teachers have a fixed one year term. This has helped in creating a growing pool of women in the community who understand and support educational interventions.

The PRIs have provided tremendous scope for joint dialogue and action. The monthly panchayat meetings, for instance, become an important forum for discussions related to the local educational scenario, emerging issues and action required. The related mandated provisions and schemes are accordingly utilised. Various committees also play an important role. Besides regular interactions, specific meetings and workshops are organised with PRIs to facilitate them in playing their roles with greater understanding and effectiveness.

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