PACS with support of sixteen Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners intensified the Behtar Shiksha Haq Abhiyan in Uttar Pradesh (UP) from June 2016 to August 2016. This was in response to the opportunity that emerged from a state government order which announced the re-formation of School Management Committees (SMCs) in July 2016. The campaign was part of PACS’ efforts to strengthen the implementation of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 in the state.
Education is one of the priority areas for PACS. It strives to ensure inclusive, equitable and discrimination free access to quality education to all children, especially children from socially excluded groups. As part of its work on education in Uttar Pradesh, PACS initiated a campaign, the ‘Behtar Shiksha Haq Abhiyan’ (BSHA)in 17 districts in the state in 2013. The broad objective of the campaign was to ensure inclusive and quality education for all. The campaign aimed to: ensure representation of socially excluded groups in School Management Committees (SMCs); build capacities of the SMCs; ensure that schools are more inclusive and meet the standards as outlined under the RTE Act, and strengthen institutional linkages between SMCs and mid-level government functionaries.
The campaign activities in 2016 centered on strengthening the SMC formation processes, and ensuring the representation of the socially excluded groups in the SMCs in schools in the selected districts. A two pronged strategy was adopted for the campaign. This included:
The campaign resulted in the execution of right processes for the representation of different groups - socially excluded groups, and women on different positions in the SMCs. This was evident from the data generated from the campaign given below:
Total CBOs Members Elected in the SMCs: 2198
Male CBO Members: 737
Female CBO Members: 1461
Scheduled Caste (SCs): 1091, Scheduled Tribes (STs): 17, Muslims: 183, Others: 907
Office Bearers in the SMCs from the CBOs:
President: (Men, 106, Women: 83 out of which SCs: 91)
Vice President: Men: 54 Women: 164 out of which SCs 111
Members: SCs: 889
Though PACS and its partners had implemented a similar campaign in the state earlier in 2014, this campaign stood out from the ownership and sustainability point of view. The campaign was rolled out after the completion of PACS program in March 2016.
Despite limited resources- both financial and human, the CSO partners and CBO leaders came together to make the SMC election process a huge success. This clearly demonstrated the vision of PACS which states that- empowering civil society and communities through capacity building and facilitating their inclusion in governance processes, enables communities to take ownership and action on development issues, and leads to sustainable change processes. In this case through the efforts of the trained CSO partners, members of the excluded community could not only participate in the making of a constitutional body like a SMC, but will now play a vital role in its decision making process to ensure inclusive education and effective governance.