West Bengal Education Network (WBEN) was formed in 1996 and since inception, WBEN has tried to focus on encouraging grass root level experiments on child education and block, district and State level advocacy. Currently, WBEN has its spread over 16 districts covering all corners of West Bengal and reaching to around 750 CBOs, 56 NGOs and more than 2000 individual members based in about 410 Gram Panchayats under 126Blocks. Swanirvar is now North 24 Parganas district office of WBEN and Samir Biswas, supervisor of KKB- Youth & Culture Department is now the district convener of WBEN.Far the last two decade, Swanirvar is trying to To develop a need-based, locally -oriented, diversified curriculum for rural high schools. Village high school students will study their local social and physical environment; do hands-on activities to learn various subjects like history, geography, economics, civics, biology, physical science, mathematics. They would develop skills for collecting, recording, organizing, understanding and communicating information; would learn some vocational skills; socially useful productive work would be integrated into various subjects; and essential activities related to local government (Panchayat) planning would get done in the process. In 2009, RTE Act passed in the Parliament and enacted in West Bengal from April, 2010.
With the ACT come into act, the CBOs and non-profits like us got huge scopes to start right based activities for the children and also the bring the aberrations to the notice of the education officials and school authorities.
Initially we and 9 others NGOs (WEBN partner organizations) did the followings:
- · Mass awareness on RTE act, 2009 through- Street corners, Puppetry, Rally, Poster Pasting , Leaflet distribution etc
- · Extensive parents meetings in different villages of North 24 Parganas district.
- · Detailed dropout survey in six blocks of North 24 Parganas – Habra-II, Baduria, Hingalganj, Deganga, Habra-I, Basirhat-II, Swarupnagar, Gaighata and Hashnabad.
- · Detailed survey on 21 schools and matching its compatibility and need assessments as per the RTE, 09 norms
- · Capacity building programmes for the 28 CBOs and rural volunteers on pros and cons of RTE act.
- · On 19th June, 12 , a press conference was called by the WBEN at Swanirvar office. There all the reports and our experiences were shared to the media personnel. 59 persons including 13 journalists and NGO representatives attended in that conference.
- · A district seminar was called on 11th April, 13 on “District Status as per RTE act, 09”. N 24 Pgs Zila Savadipati, Bharat Das, Zila Karmadhakaya, Anowara Begam, Eminent Educationist and Teachers, Niranjan Bandhopadhay, many High School teachers, WBEN representatives from 14 Blocks of North 24 Parganas were present in that seminar. The speakers describe the ground status and also described the rights that the act enacted to ensure.
- · A seminar was called 24th June, 13 on the same issue but in that seminar all the representatives of political parties were invited. There were a general discussion with them about the roles of political parties to ensure that RTE act, 09 should be enacted for the maximum benefit of the common people.7 Journalists, 16 WBEN district committee members and political representatives attended in that programme.