As members of the lowest rank of Indian society, Dalits face discrimination at almost every level, from access to education and medical facilities to restrictions on where they can live and what jobs they can have.
Our work in India is focused on providing education for the most marginalised Dalit children, informing Dalit communities about their rights and giving them the tools they need to realise them to create better lives.
Read on to hear about of the things our partners in India have been doing in recent months to support the Dalit communities we work with in Patna.
Dalit people are entitled to a number of government benefits and support schemes. But, they are often not aware that these exist, or they are unable to apply for them because they lack the literacy skills or necessary official documentation or identification to do so. This means that Dalit communities are denied access to the benefits, facilities and opportunities that might help them break out of the cycle of poverty.
Our partners in India try to combat this issue by supporting Dalit people to access ID documents or apply for schemes which may help them. Here’s some examples of what they’ve done to help in recent months…
Our learning centres offer supplementary education for Dalit children; with the hope they can integrate into mainstream school in the future. When schools reopened in India after lockdown last year, we ran a Back to School campaign to encourage everyone to return to education.
Some of the students seeking readmission into government schools were recently asked for birth certificates and caste certificates as a mandatory requirement. But most Dalit families don’t have these certificates readily available; they struggle to access them as they’re not aware of the procedures, or lack the literacy needed to fill out the neccessary forms.
Child Parliament (groups of students who campaign for their rights in their communities) members from Nazariganj, Bataganj, Ramji Chak and Gola Road learning centres decided to approach the Certificate Office and start applications on behalf of the children who lacked the right paperwork.
Thanks to their efforts, more than 15 children were given their certificates. Other Child Parliament members at Round Table Nagar centre were inspired by their actions and arranged for 11 more children to get their School Leaving Certificates or Transfer Certificates (these prove the grade that a child was achieving when they were last in school, and are essential for re-admission).
They also ensured that five families received their Aadhar Cards (national online and offline identity documents) and caste certificates.
These initiatives by our Child Parliamentarians have directly contributed to the success of the Back to School Campaign in their areas.
Our partners have been doing similar work to support Dalit people in the community and in the last few months has helped several hundred people obtain documentation or access the right government support or services:
They helped 40 women to link up with a government savings scheme which can be accessed from home.
117 people were referred to an Oxfam programme that offers cash transfers to help tide families over through the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.
Eight Dalit children were able to register for Birth Certificates and another six were supported to apply with help from the team.
12 children were able to obtain caste certificates and two families were supported to open bank accounts, often a necessity when applying for certain schemes.
Five families also received ‘Ayushman Health Cards’ which enable free access to medical facilities and treatment.
This work in India helps to break the cycle of discrimination faced by Dalit communities and we're proud to work with our partner organisation NESWSD in Patna to make this happen.