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  • Writer's pictureSamanta

Community Speak. What we SEE!

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

We are working in the Shivalik mountain range of the Great Himalayan Range of India in the state of Uttarakhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh (sharing borders with Uttarakhand). The region is inhabited by – Scheduled Tribes (Jaunsari), Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Van Gujjars), Scheduled Caste (Taungyas)  and Other Communities.

We are working on enabling access to education for the forest dwelling and peripheral communities in the Shivalik Range. 

We are working with the communities, education department, forest department, local self governance institutions to support the first generation learners. In order to do so we are working on “Whole School Transformation” of primary schools and middle schools on the periphery of the forest.

The strategy focuses on – 1. Pedagogy 2. Learning Methodologies 3. Indigenously developed learning materials 4. Integrating health as a lived experience in Learning 5. Collaboration and engagement with stakeholders to overcome access, availability and affordability of Education.

VAN GUJJARS and TAUNGYAS have lived for centuries as per the community/forest department records in the forests of the Shivalik and the Himalayan ranges in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. Over the last few decades, Van Gujjars like many other transhumance (pastoralist) communities have had to deal with rapid changes – political, economic and social – in the world around; the prolonged systemic inequities and injustices have deprived these communities of their fundamental human rights such as the – Right to access education. 

Local Factors : 

The seasonal movement of the community is inherent to their existence; there are many aspects which have had considerable influence on their educational status. The transhumance starts with change in the weather twice in a year. During summer, the months of April and May are scheduled for seasonal migration. The community has a history which they share orally along generations. The language spoken by the community is called Gujjari (a dialect), which is a combination of Punjabi and Dogri.

Challenge : 

Education among the children from the community varies as per location though substantial set of children from the community have no to poor access to education. The access is also determined by the relative economic well being, sedentarization of the community over the years,  and a host of other factors.The women from the community have had a history of minimalistic participation in the livelihood engagements of the household. This has had an impact on the – a). relative status of adult literacy (ability to write one’s name etc), b). awareness about health, c). opportunities to generate incomes by use of traditional skills – among men and women from the community. The women from the community are well versed in a host of skills learned orally across generations – traditional art, natural resource management, livestock etc. We are working towards forming groups of women and introduce practices to use the traditional skills to acquire economic empowerment as group. We intend to use this in order to introduce interventions in the areas of health of women and children in particular.

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