Development initiatives even though small in scale can serve as a valuable reference points. Today, considerable progress has been made in access to elementary education in Rajasthan. There are more girls enrolled in schools as compared to 2006 when the project started in Arain. The experience of the Adolescent Education and Development Project in Arain block suggests that providing holistic education, integrated to lives of adolescents in a context of multiple disadvantages and deprivation can be extremely challenging. In the current context, when the Right to Education Act has entitled children to an education of reasonable quality based on principles of equity and non-discrimination, the learnings from the project remind us that it is possible to change a bleak scenario.
There is enough evidence to show that making interventions context sensitive and by providing space and flexibility, social change can be initiated. It is also evident that systematic planning, coordination, training, partnership and a committed human resource, helped in furthering the education of disadvantaged children in a remote block of Ajmer district. The project’s continuous engagement with the communities also helped towards creating an enabling environment for them and a better future. The project formally ended in August 2015. However, the voices of boys and girls who were touched by the project reverberates a sense of hope and confidence that they would continue to take forward the learnings from the project. Some recommendations, that flow from the above narrative and foregoing analysis that can be taken forward by AAEA, are:
Analysis of Micro Planning Data: During the course of the project, a large amount of micro planning data on 13 parameters was collected by project functionaries. This data has not been fully analysed and needs to be examined in greater detail to evaluate the relationship between the inputs and the outcomes over a period of nine years. This analysis would also give a more realistic picture of the outcomes and achievements of the project.
Tracer Studies of Learners: Since a large number of students have passed out of the residential camps it would be interesting to collate their stories to understand their educational and career trajectories.
Supporting the Leadership of Women and Youth: The relationship built with community women, men and youth in the project areas over the years needs to be nurtured. The AAEA team can look at open-ended support to activities that are planned by different groups. e.g. small action projects can be planned with youth groups and women’s groups. Linkages can also be made with the different departments and agencies of Government of Rajasthan for funding support.
Exploring Skill Development Projects: Since the project primarily aimed at addressing needs of young women and men and actively worked with youth groups, it would be timely to look at avenues of skill development and vocational training in the project area. An effort can be made to explore the opportunities provided by the Rajasthan Skill and Livelihood Development Corporation or the Mukhyamantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Youth from the project villages could be identified for skill development trainings.
Ajmer Adult Education Association
Kanta Marwah Bhawan,
Vidyut Marg, Shastri Nagar Extention, AJMER 305006