Ground Report: How Jai Bhim Education Centre Empowers the Marginalized Through Education in Bundelkhand

The Centre also mobilizes donations from people; people can not only donate monetarily but also donate books and copies for the centre. The Centre also recycles books and stationery so that they can come in handy.
Children learn constitutional values and Baba Saheb's teachings at this centre.
Children learn constitutional values and Baba Saheb's teachings at this centre.

Jalaun: Education stands as a critical and transformative force, capable of empowering individuals and communities to shatter the shackles of poverty, discrimination, and social injustice. In the fabric of our nation, the ground realities necessitate voluntary contributions from civil society members, activists, and the media to strive for an inclusive and equitable society.

At the forefront of this pursuit is the Jai Bhim Education Centre, an initiative spearheaded by the Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch. Launched with the resounding motto of 'Educating the children while making them aware of constitutional values and instilling Ambedkarite ideologies,' the center embodies a commitment to holistic education.

This Mooknayak ground report delves deep into the heart of this transformative initiative, unraveling the narratives of change, resilience, and empowerment. As we navigate through the unique perspectives captured in report, we gain a profound understanding of how Jai Bhim Education Centre becomes a catalyst for positive change, providing insights into its impact on the marginalized communities it serves.

It was started in 2016-17. The volunteers of the centre, who are interested in educating the children, are trained at the Dalit Foundation office in Ahmedabad. The duration of the training programme is 3 days. The volunteers should be at least graduates. The Centre also mobilizes donations from people; people can not only donate monetarily but also donate books and copies for the centre. The Centre also recycles books and stationery so that they can come in handy.

Kuldeep Kumar Baudh of the Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch, the brain behind Jai Bhim Education Centre, says, “Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch found that children belonging to marginalized communities face educational challenges and drop out frequently because of widespread casteism and discrimination in the villages. We mobilized the volunteers to achieve the aim of Educate, Organize, Agitate. Through this centre, disadvantaged children receive daily lessons—1 hour of classwork and 1 hour of Constitutional studies—to address discrimination and other challenges they face in school.

Riya with students of her coaching at bhagaura village of Jalaun district
Riya with students of her coaching at bhagaura village of Jalaun district

Riya Singh, a young girl from Bhagaura Village who received training under Jai Bhim Education Trust, teaches more than 20 students. She has received training under the Jai Bhim Education Centre run by Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch. Riya teaches the students who go to primary school in the village. She says, “I think the education they get in the school is not sufficient, and to augment their education, they need coaching. Additionally, as I have been trained by the Jai Bhim Education Centre, I teach them about the constitution, as at the school, the teachers may not instill constitutional values in the children.”

Ram singh of churkhey village teaching about the constitutional values while observing the mahaad satyagraha.
Ram singh of churkhey village teaching about the constitutional values while observing the mahaad satyagraha.

Mobilizing Support for the Centre

The Centre does not only include the volunteers who teach the children but also involves the mobilizers who mobilize the communities in the villages willing to send their children to the coaching institutes and pay a nominal charge voluntarily. They also supervise the centre on a timely basis; each mobilizer has many villages under him or her.

Ram Singh, another volunteer of Jai Bhim Education Centre, who runs a coaching center in his village of Churkhey in Jalaun district, says, “I have been teaching the students since 2006 and helped the dropout and the needy children. I met Kuldeep Baudh in 2013-14, and through him, I got the training from the Dalit Foundation and Jai Bhim Education Centre of the Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch. I have taught around 32-40 students at the same time. Ram Singh says that he draws inspiration from Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, and his wife Savitri bai Phule.

Speaking to The Mooknayak, Ram Kumar, a mobilizer of Jai Bhim Education Centre, says, “I am a social worker, and one of my aims is to provide education to the underprivileged children of the school. I have observed that in the government-run schools, the teachers don’t study, and the children come home after eating mid-day meal. I have established such centers, which are called Jai Bhim Education Centres, in at least 7-8 villages. We select the volunteers who are willing to teach children after discussions with community members in each village.

There have been instances where the children themselves have objected to the discriminatory behaviour by citing the constitution.
There have been instances where the children themselves have objected to the discriminatory behaviour by citing the constitution.

The Mooknayak also spoke to Rita Vishwakarma, who as a mobilizer also supervises the centers. She said, “The first thing we do is build rapport with the villagers by organizing meetings. We tell the villagers about Jyotiba Phule, Savitri Bai Phule, and other personalities of our society and also tell them about the significance of education after which we convince the villagers to start a Jai Bhim Education Centre where, apart from the classroom syllabus, we also teach them about the constitution and great people of our society."

Rita says that this is not always easy, and people with a feudal mindset often impose hindrances in our work. Citing an example, she says that a volunteer from the Nishad community in Dahelkhand Village had to face a criminal case for supporting “Jai Bhim Education Centre.” The problem started when the students of the centre started raising “Jai Bhim” slogans at the insistence of the people from Thakur community as well as some OBCs objected to this, but the volunteer remained adamant and as a consequence, several fake cases were invoked against him, including molestation and physical assault; he was sent to jail, where he spent months and after getting bail, he left the village and moved to Kanpur.”

Kuldeep Kumar says that the centre has been successful in instilling constitutional values in children; there have been instances where the children themselves have objected to the discriminatory behaviour by citing the constitution."

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