• Phone : 05172-250800, 09415055575
  • Email : sahajni.lalitpur02@gmail.com

Delhi based feminist organisation Nirantar Trust started Sahjani Shiksha Sangh in 2002 in Lalitpur U.P. Later it was named as Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK). Nirantar believed that time and resources are needed in abundance to develop a long-term vision. SSK started with the aim to work on the ground level. It was in this context that issue of sustenance in the long term of the SSK programme was raised and reflected upon by Nirantar. This was also the time to rethink on the viability of running SSK as Nirantar’s programme. In 2013 SSK was registered as a Non- Government Organisation with an independent management and governing structure.

Context – Illiteracy has always remained a challenge for all governments. In our country, it is by far the most serious problem. Many government and non-government organisations have claimed to abolish illiteracy from the world map. Not only India but 1/3 countries of the world are still fighting with it. According to 2014 census. India has about 37% of illiterates of the entire world. Most among these are women. This is the result of patriarchal society, caste-based politics and government’s diluted and half-baked policies states have ambitious programmes of setting up primary schools in every village.

Government’s interest in this issue was reflected when National Literacy Mission (NLM) was started in 1988. Women’s education was addressed as part of the larger national education strategy and in accordance, the Mahila Samakhya programme was established. It received immense support from government and social organisations, educationist and women’s movement. Still governments main focus remained child education.The fact is that even children could not reach school because of discrimination based on gender, caste, religion, language and area. They kept adding the numbers of already existing illiterate adults. Poor and women remained marginal.

The challenge was to design the learning material in accordance with women’s perspective.To accelerate the pace of learning day camps as well as residential camps were organized as part of overall literacy programmes in 1994.  For the very first time, The curriculum was drafted keeping in mind the women’s context. The language barrier was also challenged in the course of providing education. The programme was started merging women’s life and their language.

Area- In the month of November 2002 Nirantar started exploring areas for intervene at the grassroots level. The belt has to be Dalit dominated was the prime concern. Another apprehension was that the region should have basic amenities and should not have been explored by the government and non-government organization. Organising workshops, taking suggestions, collecting information, meeting with people and officials were part of the process.

Lalitpur district of Bundelkhand was suggested by partner organization Vanangana. Nirantar initiated its work in Lalitpur building upon its learning from similar kind of work in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. Lalitpur was counted among the most backward districts of India.It became critical in the context where women’s literacy rate was as low as 20% in SC/ST areas. The society was divided on the basis of caste. people of lower caste were looked down upon. Dalit women were not allowed to wear slippers in front of people of forward class. Many of them have to carry their slippers on the head.

After initial preparations, it was time to understand the geographical boundaries of Lalitpur. The region was inspected for the very first time in Jan 2001.It repeated in May June also. Gradually field visits became a routine process. To finalise the literacy centre PRA was done in 5 villages and intensive meetings were carried out in other villages.

A Proposal was written to obtain the financial support to draft the literacy and education framework. SSK needed funds to keep its movement viable. In 2002 May Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust supported the initiative and it got momentum.

In October November 2002 literacy centres opened up in 10 selected villages of Mehrauni district. Initially, both Mehrauni and Madawara block were selected but the absence of basic facilities in Madawara led to start the work in Mehrauni. Challenges were no less. Every objective had a journey of its own.

  • Creating the right environment in villages
  • Selection of volunteers
  • Training of Volunteers
  • Selection of teachers (Advertisement,application,interviews,written work, group discussions, field visits)
  • Training of teachers
  • Mobilising women and adolescent girls
  • Selection of offices space, a literacy centre and sitting area
  • Developing the curriculum
  • Use of local language of Lalitpur, Bundeli [Primer]
  • Maintaining the continuity and quality