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Thousand Schools Programme: Ensuring every child in school

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Jamshedpur, Nov 28: The overall aim of Tata Steel’s Thousand Schools Programme is to create a replicable and scalable model of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) within the Right to Education (RTE) framework which addresses three critical aspects of schooling – Access, Learning and Governance – through ensuring every child is in school and on track to school completion, addressing the issue of learning deficit among first generation learners, creating effective learning environments in schools and strengthening School Management Committees (SMCs) to strengthen local governance.

The implementation of the programme began in Odisha in January 2015 and extended to Jharkhand in November 2016. The programme is running in eight administrative blocks in four districts of Odisha and Jharkhand where Tata Steel has its business operations. Tata Steel has gone beyond its peripherals, to revitalise school education in the entire blocks in a saturation coverage mode.

The programme, as of date, reaches 2,00,000 children across 1,415 government schools of eight blocks, 159-gram panchayats, two municipalities and 2,887 villages / habitations. In Odisha, the programme is operational in six blocks in three districts – Jajpur, Keonjhar and Sundargarh – and covers 125 GPs, two municipalities, 2,239 villages, 1,155 schools and about 150,000 children of 6-14 years. In Jharkhand, the programme runs in two blocks in West Singhbhum district, reaching 34 GPs, 648 villages, 260 schools and an estimated 50,000 children of 6-14 years.

Prior to the start of the programme, alongside a detailed analysis of secondary data, field visits and community meetings were undertaken across all eight blocks to understand the ground reality. A household survey was conducted in the first year of implementation of the Thousand Schools Programme in all the eight programme blocks. The survey captured children of the age group born to 18 years. School assessment of all schools was also done.

The programme is being operationalised in partnership mode. ASPIRE, a non-profit with expertise in executing large-scale education projects, is Tata Steel’s implementation partner. Partnership is also being built with PRI and the local administration. The Hans Foundation (THF) is co-investing in the Jharkhand replication.

The programme is contributing significantly to the agenda of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) by bringing every child of 6 to 14 years back into the school system. Child labour and early marriages are already becoming unacceptable practices, and schooling is becoming a norm in every family and community. There is churning with respect to education across the 8 blocks, reaching out to the last hamlet.

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