In 2007 the Kalandar village of Naya Basera in Kotra near Bhopal took pride in Nissar, the first and only Kalandar child to ever go to school and who is now studying to be an engineer. A little over two years later, in August 2009 Naya Basera boasts of 114 children going to school and getting educated under the Wildlife S.O.S. Literacy Programme for Kalandar children.
The Literacy Programme, a sub-programme of the Wildlife S.O.S. Kalandar Rehabilitation Programme, has been running successfully since its inception and has gained momentum in the last couple of years. Initially parents were skeptical about sending kids to school preferring a few extra pennies instead of an education. But in the last few months, as a result of the awareness created by Wildlife S.O.S. staff & workers going and talking to the elders of the Kalandar community in every village, stressing on the need of a sound education to keep up with the modern world and Nissar’s inspiring success there has been a considerable change in attitude. Many parents have come forward seeking help from Wildlife S.O.S. to enroll their children in schools and sponsor their education.
But 2009 has been an exceptionally successful year with over 100 children from one Kalandar Village of Naya Basera going to schools and more admissions still continuing. Prerna Sharma, Wildlife S.O.S. Kalandar Rehab in charge for Bhopal and a Bear Enrichment officer said “In the month of July we have admitted 97 students in Satyadeep Jagriti School and a few other government run schools in the area. The admissions are still going on and more families are coming forward to educate their children for a better tomorrow.”
Geeta Seshamani, co founder, Wildlife S.O.S. says “Apart from sponsoring their school fees we have provided these children with the text books for classes 1st to 5th under Wildlife S.O.S. Kalandar Rehabilitation Literacy Programme. Also students going first time to school in Aganwadi were given chalks and slates. We are happy and encouraged by the huge turnover of Kalandar children seeking admissions in schools this year. Our staff is doing their best to get them all accepted by different schools in the area and settling them with text books, slates and chalks.”
These books were distributed to the Kalandar children through the elderly people of the Kalandar community like the President, Vice President and Secretary of the Kalandar Samaj and other elders so as to build up motivation for others as well as make the Kalandar community elders responsible for the growth and successful running of the Literacy programme.