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On the southernmost tip of the Rajasthan, sharing its borders with the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh is the district of Banswara. It is one of the most backward district in the state and especially the villages where the project is operating are remote and in the absolute interiors. Most of these villages are not accessible during the monsoons, which is for four months of the year. The project area consists of 334 villages in Garhi, Anandpuri and Bagidora block of Banswara district.

Banswara is predominantly a tribal area with over 75% of its population belonging to the Bhil Baghdi tribe. They speak a dialect called Baghdi which is a mixture of Gujarati and Mewari. Once being nomads this tribe settled down sometimes during the turn of the previous century. The peculiarity of this tribe is that they prefer to live in isolation and each family has a house on a hilltop, while utilizing the flat land in-between for agriculture, forming villages with scattered inhabitation. This form of housing along with the rugged nature of the terrain contributes to the tribal life-style at the same time making the provision of basic necessary infrastructure such as health centre, veterinary service centre, schools and road networks difficult and expensive. The density of population is under 200 per sq. km.

The tirbals of  this area witnessed a unique  reformation in 1908 with the  BHAGAT MOVEMENT  inspired by  religious  leader GURU GOVIND (not the Sikh spiritual leader) who  preached love, peace and  brotherhood while propagating vegetarianism,  abstinence from alcohol and evils of dowry. Even today traces of that movement are found in most villages and their mode of greeting is Jai Guru, a tribute to Guru, attribute to Guru Govind.

A tribal house is made of mud tiles for the purpose  of roofing. An average house comprises of two  rooms and is ill ventilated with only one door and no windows. Water for drinking is  a major  problem as the  sources are  usually open wells,  which are  down hill, and  the woman  at home has to in most cases carry water for a distance of more than two kilometers up hill.  Drinking water from these open  wells under  unhygienic conditions has spread the problem of gunea worms in the area.
Prize Distributions to Children
Conducting Contests for Children
Prize Distributions to Children

Conducting Meeting to discuss about
improving Educations 

Contrary to the Indian  custom of dowry, where a  girl’s father  has to pay  an amount to  the boy’s  family for marriage of  his  daughter, the Bhil Baghdi male has to pay a price to fetch a wife. The price of a girl depends on her capacity to work and other abilities.

Malnutrition is the  order of the day  since the staple  diet  of the area is Maize Rotis  (a type of bread)   with  chilly chutney  (a spicy dip) and the area is rampant with Tuberculosis. The project area survey that the number of suspected cases  are above 15% Majority  of them do not want to admit the fact that they suffer from this disease, forget getting them treated. This is  further aggravated due to the  social stigma  attached  to the diseases. The Child mortality rate in the area is 122 for every 1000.

The  devastation of  forests has led to  lowering  of the  wate r table, washed  away the  fertile top soil as a   result  unbalancing   the economic system resulting in loss of minor forest produce on which the tribal once survived in the pre-independence era.
87.6% of the  families (consisting of 7.3  members at an  average) have  a land  holding  of less  than 1ha. which  combines  both  leveled as well as low yielding sloppy land. The farmer has an extremely low risk taking capacity; as a result he cannot adopt modern technology.

Rainfall is diminishing and whatever  precipitation that  dose  takes place,  flows  into the  nallas and  river due to shortage of watershed  management. Another predicament is the recurring droughts,  which ultimately lead to famine. Rajasthan conjures the image of a desert and if immediate action is not taken to reinforce this area, we are likely to witness a rocky desert in the next decade.

The burgeoning rate of population growth, 31% in1981-91 decade  against a national  average of 24% is  another disturbing  factor in  context with the low land holdings. Livestock is poor quality with extremely low milk yielding  capabilities and maintained purely for their dung value. Though the livestock population is comparatively high there is insufficient pasture land and as a result starved cattle.

Avenues to develop  resources for  self income  generation  unexplored and totally  mismanaged if at all mobilized.  Lack  of local employment leaves the tribal with no alternative but to migrate for 7 months of the year (November to February and April to June) along with all working hands in the family.

Total mismanagement  of resources  and low  productivity on all  fronts lead to a chronically deficit budget and an unfavorable balance of payment in the tribal relationship with the local Baniya (trader/money lender).  This is the Baniya’s  two  prong  attack on  the tribal,  encouraging  him  to  take loans at exorbitant interests and later compelling him to sell his produce at lower than market rates.

The scattered form of inhabitation and the undulating terrain with  hills and streams  and the distance from  school has  been a major  deterrent  for the child going to school. Average number of school going children is 43%  while the  average completing  primary  education is 32%. In case of the girl child only 21% are school going and the completion rate of primary education is below 11%. The literacy rate of  Rajasthan is the  second lowest in India that of 28.56%. In Banswara the literacy rate is as low as 17% while the female literacy rate is below 4.5%.
Annual Function School
Organising Tournaments for Children
Formal Education :
In an area of scattered inhabitation and one that is deprived of the infrastructure  for education, ASSEFA’s  modus  operandi is to have feeder schools in every hamlet and a mother school for 4-5 feeder schools. The feeder  schools are from  class I - III and the  mother schools are from class I - III and the mother  schools are  from  class I - V. The idea is  that a  child in  the  age  group of 6 - 8 years  should have  educational  facilities at his doorstep in the Feeder schools.

Once the child is 8 years and above and the habit of school going is  inculcated in  the  child  he/she  starts  attending  the  mother  school  which is at a distance of approximately a kilometer, The concept is to take education to the child.

During the year 1999, 18 new schools were  opened making  the  total number of day  schools 71 with an  enrollment of  3527. The  number  of children enrolled in 49 balwadis is 1505 making the  total  enrollment 5032.  These children  are being  taught through  the process  of MLL  and  are provided all required stationery.

The teachers are youth of the same village who have a minimum  qualification of class XII pass. These youth  have been  intensively  trained  to become teachers and are employed by the VLECs (Village Level Education  Committee).  The Training  is an ongoing  process  towards  capacity  building  of  the teachers to increase their efficiency and ensure the quality of education imparted. Ten Sahyogi (support) teachers assist the teachers in their work  and provide on Job training.

The day to day activities of the schools are monitored by the respective VLEC, which is trained to perform this assignment competently. ASSEFA also keeps a close look at the happening in school through separate meetings with the VLECs, Cluster Societies and teachers at one level. At another level the Education Consultant Monitors the activities through bimonthly meetings with the Sahyogi teachers and visits to the schools. An exhaustive class wise, subject wise, month wise annual plan on contact and methodology has been worked out which is one of the monitoring tools for lessons imparted and the quality of education and the transaction of lessons.

The feeder schools function in places provided by the community which in most cases is the verandah of house. School buildings are constructed only at mother schools on land contributed by the community and in some cases personal land.

In the initial Years of the project, enrollment was an asking factor and could only be achieved through intensive drives and community interaction. Over the years this has changed and in 1999 our coverage has reached 92% of eligible children attending school and that too voluntarily.

Traditional Dance Presented by our School Children
School Children of Serva Seva Vidhyalaya, Banswara

School Children of Serva Seva Vidhyalaya, Garhi
UNDP Team Visit
Annual Function School


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