Education Campaign - Learning and Outcome Commentary

The Figure of Admissions of the Poor reaches 4000+ ( adding on each day, have an authentic list with us, as contrast to controversial official child tracking survey ) 
The official figure yet to reveal the actual status but the momentum of our campaign has facilitated admissions of more than 50,000 children in 3 states on 25% reserved sets in private schools 

PATRIKA – Media Action Group (MAG ) campaign
An editorial and ground camapign for awareness and action for compliance of specific provision of RTE ( 25% reservation in private schools ) through public engagement    

4000+ children( number increasing each day) enrolled through our team of correspondents and volunteers, we can offer a the list of all ( data of children enrolled is documented with us)

Aao Padhyein Sabko Badhayein (Come let us teach and work for the rise of all) 
·    Launched on 25th April, 2011
·    Campaign Focus: 3 states, 77 districts; Team: 60 reporters, 63 social organizations, more than 600 MAG volunteers
·         4000 + admissions (as of now) through direct intervention, officially 1,70,987 lakh children in MP, and 1275 children in Chhattisgarh have been enrolled on the reserved seats, and we facilitated the admission drive and built pressure for compliance of provisions of RTE in favour of the deprived. Rajasthan flags off the enrolment drive in Rajasthan ( 1st  July, 2011) but far behind in compliance of the provisions of 25% in private schools but we mobilized the agenda and did our bit.
Core: Massive campaign to focus on the Issue of 25% reservation in private schools of poor and disadvantaged as part of provisions in right to free and compulsory elementary education act, community mobilization, awareness, pressure building, editorial campaigning and expose.
Strategy: Through team of Media Action Group (MAG) volunteers and patrika reporters engaged local ngos (with community and media action group) to identify out of school children in the vicinity of the private schools (Child Tracking); sought admissions and fought for their rights and against malpractices; stories in all respective additions of PATRIKA under common campaign name and logo covering the experiences, attitude of the school and authorities, view point and challenges with version of the competent authorities school representatives; making the campaign sustainable with responsibility sharing with community and volunteers (concept of volunteers build at ward levels named as Patrika Connect); inviting Anupam Kher to mobilize the campaign to Patrika office to interact with concerned citizens and civil society and volunteers.
Outcome (so far): 4000+ admissions ( number added up each day as the campaign is still moving on) through direct intervention ( we have a list of the beneficiaries);
Rajasthan government has been exposed and yet to take action on the provision so the entire credit of enrolling the poor in private school and those who had no access to education even in government school been enrolled through the campaign
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan officials offer appreciation in some districts, though in coverage of discrepancies in the data of Child Tracking was exposed and the government has been reviewing and surveying (CTS) the drop outs/ out of school children again.
District collectors joined hands and ward councilors pledged for the cause, school teachers and anganwadi workers also joined the campaign, MP and MLAs also endorsed the cause as it helped them earn goodwill of the electorates; apart from charity from the affluent mass, MP and MLAs promised to spent development fund ( MP and MLA LAD) for child education, the state fund for school maintenance and support was being released and people reach to us for help in admissions. Private schools also comply after feeling the pressure from the campaign.
Indore has done excellent work on the campaign with maximum number of applications reaching the private schools and getting 100+ children admitted so far and exposing the malpractices in the name of 25% reservation and the riches encroaching upon the reserved seats using fake documents; Bhilwara launched a massive drive to engage local riches (Bhamashahas) who have been supporting the poor children for education accessories and facilitated opening of a school Stay Home (under the government scheme) for 1000+ deprived children identified by us; the affluent people and social organizations in the districts come forward for charity and share responsibility of children and adopt them for support; 5 villages adopted by Kota division and 800+children enrolled ( Kota, Boondi, Baran, Jhalawar) for 100% enrollment agenda; they added another angle to the campaign Chalo School ( lets go to school) for identifying the most deprived and poorest for enrolment in private/ government schools; Karauli gets the support of Collector who joins Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with our campaign floating 80+ banners in the districts using logo of Patrika campaign as it becomes brand now and district administration under immense pressure to perform as Patrika campaign is generating more results than theirs, admits 57 children on 1st July; reaching to 1000+ within a quarter, administration now join our team in Karauli to track children in Panchayat Samitis and City wards and the affluent citizens adopts children for education support; launched Raatri Chaupaal to send reporters for night halt in remote villages and see enrolments in pvt and govt schools and emphasize education of girl child also, used innovative means of traditional media and organized a trumpet call ( dhol nagada) in the city to highlight the campaign and purpose; generated support for the needy from affluent class and bag, books, bottles were sponsored by them, even local MLA also promised to support as many to be brought to her knowledge through the campaign; Doongarpur identified 1700+ deprived children and targeted to admit 111 children on 11th July at 11 am and the total figure reaches to 582, affluent mass come forward to support in cash and kind; In Sawaimadhopur 1000+ children get enrolled and a district level student-parent committee and after a representation collector and CEO, Zila Parishad instructed the DEO to offer report in 7 days on 25% compliance; In Sikar the campaign earns the attention and district collector deputes bloc level in charges to ensure the implementation and awareness. Dausa engaged illiterate mothers in the format of Shiksha Panchayat to interact and convince about importance of education and RTE and ensure enrollments of their children. Bharatpur launched education rally. Beawer, Tonk, Udaipur and other district also adding the number each day. Jabalpur facilitates 40 enrollments. Bhopal carrying massive campaign highlighting the after effects and harassment of the poor children in high profile schools adding dimension to the issue. Chattisgarh mobilized the issue and now taking the agenda to ward levels to engage masses for heavy enrollments.
Patrika Connect (PC) – MAG (ward level programme for democracy, development and community volunteering in all 3 states with a range of 50-80 ward in each city to have PC offices all across with a huge team of MAG ) has begun taking up the education agenda at ward levels. More than 200 PC - MAG offices already functional now.
PC offices have been given agenda to ensure 100% enrollment of children (deprived, marginalized, poor, orphan and others) and generate support from the ward inhabitants.
On 1stJuly, 2011 the CM of Rajasthan flags off the school enrollment campaign in the state and announces penalty for noncompliance of the RTE provisions.

Innovations going on in our campaign; use of traditional media of drummers, rallying, public dialogue, banners etc.
The next phase starts in July for government schools (quality education and active volunteering by the community)

We Share, We Care
·          The Child education, being crucial parameter for development makes the the current campaign of Patrika entitled Aao Padhyein Sabko Badhayein (Come let us teach and work for the rise of all) unique from many points of view. The latest figures released by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the Children who are deprived of their right to education to the three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh make a disturbing and alarming reading.
·          Deeply concerned about the plight of the deprived children Patrika accepted the challenge. It was different to persuade the private schools to admit equal to 25% of their strength children from the marginalized sections of society free of cost a revenue even government. Officials colluded with their so the result was that the poor Children from the marginalized sections of society could not give to school. Patrika's power lies in its communication power. It launched a campaign which exhorted people to cooperate and help in enabling these poor children to get free education Patrika first highlighted the problem of illiteracy and drew the attention of the people through specific editorials to the plight of the poor children.
·           Its appeal in form of Aao Padhayein created desired impact on the mindsets of the people. It not only issued appeals but mobilized 600 volunteers, 60 reporters and more than 63 social organizations to join also be part of the campaign. Patrika worked in an organized and systematic way. It identified the regions where most poor students stayed at home as they could not afford to pay fees. It assigned tasks to various task forces it created and monitored the ingress. It was a combined endeavour which involved hundreds of people. Thee result was highly encouraging.
·             In the face to strong public opinion the management of the private schools yielded and agreed to allot 25% of their seats to the poor children. Aao Padhayein.. turned out to bear hilly successful venture of accounts of Patrika's deep commitment, dogged percussion inspiration and ability to change the mind sets of the people in the three states. It was an extraordinary and constructive effort, which was made possible by Patrika's power of communication to arouse people's consciousness and transform it. As a result, thousands of the marginalized children have been able to utilize there Right To Education.

How does the work contribute to key communication for social change themes?

·          Communication Campaign for the right to Free and Compulsory education for Poor children in three states of India ( Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) covering 77 districts ( April - June 2011) 
·          It was a campaign launched through the social wing of newspaper (MAG), engaged reporters, social organizations, citizen groups/ individuals to raise the issue of the right of the poor and disadvantaged to have quality education, seek admissions in neighbourhood private schools and inclusion of the marginalized.
·       The trigger - Free and Compulsory Education (Elementary Education) Act came into effect last year and the states were to formulate rules and regulations for better implementation of the act within a stretch of 3 years.
·       Out of many provisions, one of the most sensitive issues had been admission of the poor in nearby private school on the 25% seats. The private schools were reluctant and went to Supreme Court of India for exemption from the provision. The courts quashed the petition, but the state governments kept mum and didn’t force compliance of the act.
·       We sought change in the status of education of the poor, change in mindsets of the private schools and  enactment of the provision of 25%, active engagement of the community  and awareness about rights of the poor.
·       Launched an socio editorial campaign Aao Padhayein, Sabko Badhayein ( lets  teach and work the rise of all) :
·       We offered a concrete format and interpretation of the provisions to them ( as this was a new act)
·       Through teleconferencing we educated our team of volunteers and reporters, explained the modus operandi, attended queries and  engaged a huge team of Media Action Group Volunteers for ground intervention and work closely with the reporters
·       Modus operandi: Identifying at least 5 schools in each district, child tracking of poor children in the vicinity of these schools, seek the status of admissions there, demanding admissions of the child tracked, engaging civil society, and socially active citizens, building pressure on school administration to comply the act, highlighting the attitude of the school administration, version of the District Education Officers/ or Collector and simultaneously reporting in the paper.
·       Mid - Campaign we invited famous film actor- director Anupam Kher and organized an interaction with civil society, international organizations ( eg UNICEF representatives) and socially concerned citizens to add momentum to the campaign and cause. Mid - campaign we launched blog to update the status of each edition and initiatives there.
What are key achievements/activities?
·       Campaign in 3 states, 77 districts, approx 600 MAG volunteers, 60 reporters, 63 social organizations
·         4000+ admissions (as of now) through direct intervention, Awareness about the issue, officially 1,70,987 lakh children in MP, and 1275 children in Chhattisgarh have been enrolled on the reserved seats, and we facilitated the admission drive and built pressure for compliance of provisions of RTE in favour of the deprived. Rajasthan flags off the enrolment drive in Rajasthan ( 1st  July, 2011) but far behind in compliance of the provisions of 25% in private schools but we mobilized the agenda and did our bit.
·       A bunch of 114 children identified in one district (Bhilwara) for admission in ‘stay home’, this was a project worth Rs 5 lakh passed by the joint efforts of Patrika and Community.
·       Government prepared to collude with the private schools to shelve this provision till next year because of the pressure of the lobby of the private schools and their reluctance to allow poor to mingle with the children from high society. After the campaign, government had to begin the process of enquiry and issue instructions to education officers to hear the complaint on
·       The campaign launched on 25th April and the government in Rajasthan had issued notification on 29th March with guidelines to private schools also about the 25% provision but after even a month, there was no action and intention. Suddenly, there was a buzz about the issue.
·       The most interesting outcome was when the schools made excuses of not receiving any guideline from the government, refused admissions point blank. Upon raising the issue with the Education Minister of Rajasthan, he dismissed the fact that the rules about the provision have been framed, through reporter only he came to know about the notification and took a meeting the next day to save his face.
·       The private schools felt the heat and accepted that online notification is as good as making it public, hence excuse of not receiving of guideline wouldn’t work.
·       Ground level awareness ran through child tracking, the poor were awestruck at the possibility of studying in schools meant for the rich. Our own network of volunteers and NGOs played a major role, we gave due credit to them in newspaper stories. 
·       Daily phone calls in newspaper office enquiring about campaign, HELPLINE were launched, many schools even committed themselves to admit all those children who are recommended through us;
·       A consortium on Right to Education by civil society in Rajasthan invited us to share our learning from the campaign before organizing a national level convention (in Rajasthan, June) with participation of experts and different stakeholders.
·       We represented our case in front of a group of MLAs, they also endorsed our efforts and assured to raise the issue in the coming session of the assembly.
·       Blog launched to disseminate updates; simultaneously teams of volunteers (Patrika Connect which operated at ward levels for democracy and development with engagement of common citizen) were structurally built for sustainable impact and pursuance.
·       One of the outstanding outcomes now is the state government of Rajasthan ( where there was much reluctance and apathy on part of government machinery to take up the issue) has its Chief Minister flagging off the campaign for enrolment of the poor children in schools and recently announced that on non compliance of 25% provision, the registration of the schools shall be cancelled.
·       In one of the districts (Bhilwara, Rajasthan) on our pursuance one school 'Stay Home' (first of its kind planned to be launched under government school in 7 districts for child labours and street children) has been set up in active consultation with Patrika –MAG and all the children admitted here (90) have been those identified by our campaign and rest of total 114 children tracked by us been admitted by the government officials in government schools. At the same place the rich people have adopted children for uniform and book support.
·       At yet another district (Karauli, Rajasthan) the district collector has joined hands and collaborates with our campaign as they find the campaign serving the policy agenda and much systematic than the government machinery alone can handle. Visited Patrika office and deputed his education department staff to join hands with our network and has ordered to put our campaign logo on their official banners ( of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) to add momentum as it adds to their credit. 
·       In MP (Indore district), the campaign also simultaneously exposed the frauds in the name of admissions of the poor in good schools for free. The affluent getting free admissions in private schools on the reserved seats and this created mass awareness about how the rich can find loopholes to keep the marginalized on the margin.
·       And the results keep pouring in and we keep sharing on the blog and the next on agenda is quality education in government schools through community monitoring and media facilitation.
Why did we pursue these activities?
1. Patrika group of newspapers is considered as the most credible newspapers and has the distinction of being socially relevant newspaper, has taken social issues as a part and parcel of organizational and editorial ideology. We had been carrying the social agenda ever since as a part of organizational philosophy but to make our efforts sustainable, directional and meaningful we created a separate wing (Media Action Group) specially for the purpose of intervening through newspaper and at ground level with the strength of our paper and reader base - for Action and Change exploring all communication routes including traditional and new media.
2. We were concerned about the issue of education of the poor children and passage of the Act in 2009 (came into effect in 2010) made it pertinent to raise issues related to the rights of the poor children to  access quality education, mobilize masses, engage civil society, drive action and build pressure on the machinery and other stake holders for compliance of the crucial provisions without which the very spirit of the Act would be lost.
3. It was the first academic session after the act implemented and we couldn’t lose this opportunity, besides we knew we could very well use the strength of our reader base (of over 18 million across the country as per Indian Readership Survey) as we have been raising social issues through the newspaper forum and using ground level interventions to bring real change by empowering masses for sustainability of actions.
4. It was an issue concerning 21million children who are out of school. We wanted maximum children facilitated through us and complement the enactment of the Act in the states we operate in. It was a noble cause and we also wanted to make each citizen taking responsibility of education of the poor children. Earlier to this campaign we had been raising relevant issues pertaining to education (crisis of teachers, quality of education in government schools, improvement in infrastructure, environment, facilities etc), utilization of the funds allocated for child education in various schemes. Had recently given our correspondent this task of adopting one child and generate support for his/her education.
5. In continuity of this passion, we launched this campaign to expose the real intention, work progress, strategy and implementation by the government machinery vis a vis reservation of the poor (for age between 6-14 years) in private schools.
How this work contributes to sustainable development?

1. The children (approx 563 children have been admitted in good private schools through child tracking undertaken by our team in 3 states) would now keep going to school as we have a complete list of these children and as the session has just begun, shall keep monitoring their status.
2. With participatory decision making approach, we engaged civil society ( especially those working on child issue- number approx 63) and our own network of volunteers ( Patrika Connect in urban wards), they facilitated in identifying poor children, launching ground level awareness for their parents about their rights, generated data of the children and took them to nearby private schools for admission. At some districts, they actually launched a Helpline for the poor and needy to guide them, fill application form, help chose school for kids, arrange documents required etc. These organization/ groups have been keeping track of admission status and have also shouldered responsibility with us to help generate support and help these kids continue their studies uninterrupted.
3. At many districts we also managed to mobilize the community to come forward to support in kind (individuals and some social groups) the deprived children who couldn’t afford their uniform, bag, books etc. This sense of responsibility in society towards the deprived was another achievement.
4. As simultaneously we were working on building and widening our own network of volunteers in all the districts, we could launch it in all three states (Kota, Bhilwara, Banswara, Karaulii, Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Gwalior, and Chattisgarh – in the municipal electoral territory) with the name - Patrika Connect. They could join in the rear part of the campaign, now stand with us to take this agenda forward and pledge to ensure that none of the children in their area remains out of school. This team being local inhabitants can easily take care of their ward territory. We gave them due credit in coverage and keeping them charged up to continue to take responsibility.
5. The agenda of inclusion is the most significant impact of the campaign issue as we also pushed for the issue of making them study in the same classrooms and not separately. Confidence among the poor who have been able to admit their children in good schools have their morale boosted up with this confidence that they can also have access to better living and make their dreams come true.
What are the long term impacts of the work?
1. As we are complementing the Act and the government agenda, in the long term we shall be contributing in building environment for making quality education accessible to the needy, in raising different controversial aspects of child education for debate and keeping the media scanner on for better implementation of the provisions of the act.
2. After the campaign, people are now aware about such an act in existence and about rights of the poor. This consciousness in society is very striking as many still approach us to seek help in admitting the poor child in schools and offer to support them through us. Many private schools vouched for admissions to those who went there with Patrika news clips, or with the name of Media Action Group volunteers, or as part of the campaign. Some even expressed their willingness to fill the designated seats - even without desired documents/ formalities - to those children recommended through us.
2. Gradually, we wish that public schools achieve the status of being qualitatively so high that everyone (rich or poor) yearns to study there and have equal chance of admission there. Common school for all, can be the achieved and neighborhood school agenda can show up results in the coming years as the media pressure not only creates pressure, but also sets agenda and has potential of bringing change if mixed with journalistic activism combined with use of all possible mode of communication, interpersonal being the most effective and mass communication being the magic multiplier.
3. Sharing of campaign information among different stakeholders, academicians, civil societies and those in change of the campaign in respective regions – would play an important role in knowing and sharing developments in the issue and different approaches, rules-regulations and challenges. We keep receiving feedback from different organizations and they also in return keep us update about related developments in other states / regions.
 What obstacles faced to undertake the work?

1. The biggest obstacle was non-clarity about implementation and rules -regulations to be drafted by the respective states on the Act. When we thought of the campaign launch, there were already directions to implement these provisions within a span of 3 years. This was excuse enough for the system to shelve it. Amid all this we raised the issue and faced the ire of the private schools and government both.
2.  Another challenge was to convince the reporters about significance of the issue, prepare them for stories, as this was a new act they were not aware. We briefed them, solved their queries, and guided them about the course of action. Attaining editorial activism was also something not tasted in full by this comparatively new breed of reporters. Through teleconferencing, we were able to exchange ideas, guide them to engage social organizations/ groups/individuals and right course of action.
3. It was taken as a newspaper campaign against private schools, though we never promoted it this way. Since private schools have been newspaper advertisers also, the biggest risk was losing business. There was great risk, but in the larger interest, we accepted the challenge and many big schools did convey their displeasure and many others felt the pressure and moved letter to the government seeking clarification on the issue.
4. Another challenge was to take private schools into confidence and prepare them for compliance, since they had not received any direction from the government, they were ready with the excuse and since there was no clarity about action on non-compliance, there was no fear also. Another excuse they made was that if this category of children would apply we shall admit them.
5. Now the challenged remained to send as many applications as we could but the major beneficiaries were unaware about their rights, we had to literally run awareness drive in slums, and other such areas, with the help of civil societies and helpline really worked out to be a good idea, wherever we could.
6. Even civil society was not active everywhere, there we took help of our own network of readers, volunteers  and wrote in the mid campaign a front page appeal to all to come forward and help whichever way they can. This worked and many influential groups came up to support us in cash and kind (direct to the children).
7. Its still tough fight in Rajasthan as there are anomaly in the notification defining the deprived and poor.

Innovations ( still collating from other divisions) :
·         One to One meets in Slums, actual activism through one of the MAG staffers
·         Setting up of Helpline at office and mobile contact with our team
·         Community mobilization and engagement of social groups and citizens
·         Simultaneous news campaign building pressure, offering transparency by publishing  number of seats vacant, applicants, and attitude of school by name
·         Later exposing malpractices, riches encroaching upon the reserved seats using fake documents
·         Highlighting the support of the rich to the needy in terms of facilitation, donation etc.
·         Massive drive to engage local riches (Bhamashahas) who have been supporting the poor children for education accessories and adopting them for support
·         Facilitated opening of a school Stay Home (under the government scheme) for 114 deprived children identified through campaign
Kota division
·      5 villages adopted for 100% enrollment agenda; they added another angle to the campaign Chalo School ( lets go to school) identifying the most deprived and poorest for enrolment
·         As campaign become brand name support of Collector who joins Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with our campaign floating 80+ banners in the districts using logo of Patrika campaign
·         Raatri Chaupaal ( Night Dialogue) sending reporters for night halt in remote villages and seek enrolments in pvt and govt schools and emphasize education of girl child also
·         Use of traditional media, organizing trumpet call ( dhol nagada) in the city to highlight the campaign and purpose
·         Generated support for the needy from affluent class and bag, books, bottles were sponsored by them,
·         Local MLA also promised to support as many to be brought to her knowledge through the campaign
·         11 o clock, 11th July and enrolment of 111 children and such innovative formula to generate interest in the issue
·         Affluent mass come forward to support in cash and kind
·         District level student-parent committee formed, a representation to collector and CEO, Zila Parishad ( Local body representative) instructed the District Education Officer (DEO)to offer report in 7 days on 25% compliance
·         District collector deputes bloc level in charges to ensure the implementation and awareness.
See daily update on blog
Dr Shipra Mathur, Division Head, Media Action Group, Kesargarh, Rajasthan Patrika, Jaipur
+91 9928015504