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Bundelkhand Dalit dropouts distribute self-made diyas to 'fight' illiteracy on Diwali

Orai Dalit children with earthen lamps
By Our Representative
In a unique celebration of Diwali this year, school dropout children from Dalit and other backward class communities of the rural areas of Orai taluka of Jalaun district in Uttar Pradesh went around to schools, colleges, government offices and police departments, offering to staff and officials diyas (earthen lamps) they had made with their own hands.
The message of the celebration, which was organized by the Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch (BDAM) and other social organisations, was to remove the darkness of illiteracy in the rural areas. Currently studying in Jai Bhim Education Centres, operating in individual households, they handed over the colourful earthen lamps, among others, to district police chief Dr Satish Kumar and district development officer Pushpendra Singh.
"Our message was to spead the motto of love and brotherhood. We sang all through the well-known song 'Deep se deep jalate chalo, prem ki Ganga bahate chalo’ while handing over these lamps", said the teachers who accompanied them, Priti Bauddh and Kalpana Singh. The teachers were were accompanied with social worker Rihan Mansoori.
Talking to media, BDAM social worker Kuldip Kumar Bauddh, said, "Our education centres, which right now work in individual households, admit school dropouts belonging to all the communities. Our effort is to ensure that these children become part of the mainstream education.” 
The effort is to replicate a Dalit Shakti Kendra-type centre to train children into different trades and empowering them to fight injustice
The children studying in Jai Bhim Education Centres are re-admitted in schools, and the teachers in these schools do extra coaching with them in order to ensure that they do not lose interest in education. In all, 1,100 children study in these centres, which operate in 25 villages.
Activists associated with BDAM said, the effort is to replicate and set up a Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK)-type centre, which runs near Ahmedabad in Sanand taluka, training backward class children into different trades and empowering them to fight injustice and caste discrimination, especially untouchability. 
DSK director Martin Macwan, a well-known Dalit rights activist, told Counterview that he was recently in Urai to set up such a vocation centre. "We have lots of children, mostly teenagers, coming at DSK from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states for training. Many of them girls, they are taught into sewing skills, carpentry, mobile repair, photo and videography, etc." 
He added, "We ensure that they become bold enough to speak up against untouchability and earn a livelihood. As we found that there is a huge response from other states, we decided to help local organizations in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states to open DSK-type centres in those states so that children do not have to come to Gujarat for this."

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