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Kokrajhar District Youth Conclave organised by National Foundation for India

Advancing Inclusive and Accessible Education: Focus on Gender and children with Disabilities

The National Foundation for India (NFI) had organized a one day district level youth conclave at Kokrajhar District, Assam on 30th September 2023 at the Community Hall, Srirampur. Co-funded by the European Union (EU) and hosted by Action for Inclusion and Empowerment Trust (AIET), Kokrajhar and Sido-Kanhu Institute (SKI), Srirampur, Kokrjhar, the conclave on “Advancing Inclusive and Accessible Education: Focus on Gender and Children with Disabilities”.

The main objective of this event was to provide a framework to create sustainable models focusing on education quality and inclusiveness, taking into account the perspectives of different stakeholders including the CBOs and BTR Government. Through a combination of keynote addresses, panel discussions, interactive sessions and cultural events, the participants gained a deep insight into the issues in education today and be in a better position to formulate policies and projects for intervention through this event, leading to a more equitable society. 

Because according the NITI Aayog and UNDP’s North Eastern Region District SDG Index & Dashboard Baseline report 2021-2022 indicates Kokrajhar  as one of the poorest districts in the country. All its socio-economic indicators are amongst the lowest. The total literacy rate of the district is just 65.22%. For decades the district has been devastated by armed insurgency movements and ethnic conflicts leading to a large-scale internal displacement and has forced the population to live abysmally.

In the Sustainable development goals, the fourth key area of focus is Education. A lot has been said and some efforts have also been taken by the Government to strengthen the infrastructure in schools in addition to numerous steps taken to ensure that all children (including children with disability) attend school. However independent studies (including ASER 2022) have repeatedly shown the poor learning quality status of children. This invariably implies that though children attend school, there are enormous gaps in the childrens’ actual learning & what is expected out of them, in accordance with their age. But in the case of disability it is seen as a discrimination and exclusion of Children with disability, according to a recent survey report by AIET on Education for children with disability in Kokrajhar district has shown that the school dropout rate is 26% out of which indicates that the highest number of percentage i.e., 73% shows the reason for dropout is disability. The issue of discrimination and exclusion of children from education is not exclusive to children with disabilities only. There are numbers of children who never attend school, drop out early and fail to complete basic primary education due to many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is due to displacement in conflict and extreme poverty. Discrimination towards the children with disabilities and the drop out children has to be addressed and needs to be understood in the broader context. Considering that today’s education is one of the key aspects that will build tomorrow’s generation, who in turn will drive the region, it’s essential to focus on this vital area and try to come up with a viable and sustainable solution that involves various stakeholders including the community that is being impacted.

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The expert speakers were Raju Narzary Executive Director NERSWN Kokrajhar, Kalpana Soren Leturer Cum Inter Quality Assurance Cell B.Ed College, Gossaigaon, Uttam Ghosh Assistant Head Master Srirampur High School, Dhonewar Rabha Assistant Teacher from Jamuguri High School, Sanjiv Kumar Roy the CRCC Srirampur Cluster under Gossaigaon Education Block. And the Moderator of the event was Norul Hoque the Managing Trustee of Sarifa Begam Foundation Dhubri district.

The participants were from different organizations like NERSWN Korajhar, AIET Korajhar, AMAN Foundation Barpeta, ASHA Foundation from Bhaoraguri, SKI from Srirampur and Sarifa Begam Foundation from Dhubri district. Also there were student organization like Assam Santal Student Union, students from different Colleges were present in the event. There were 39 participants from CBSs, 173 students from Colleges, 37 were from student union and youth organizations.

The participants were equipped with the knowledge on quality and inclusive education in BTR, especially in the district of Kokrajhar. The conclave aimed to create a sense of volunteering among the participants for taking up sustainable action in regard to quality and inclusive education in their respective villages. The conclave ended with a cultural exchange programme which highlighted the rich tradition of diverse communities across Kokrajhar district.

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