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PARDHI EDUCATION PROGRAMME
The crash in India’s tiger population from some 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to only a couple of thousand by the end of it has been attributed largely to a community called the Pardhis. These were a group of largely hunting gathering nomadic tribes, who since the time of the Mughal emperors, have been hired to help in shikar (hunting), the practice which they later continued for the British & then the ‘zamindars’ (landowners), in the early Independent India. As their name suggests, the community’s traditional occupation is hunting, and they are experts in the same.
The extinction of tigers in Panna Tiger Reserve by 2009 was primarily owing to this community’s activities inside the forests of Panna. In the same year, the Forest Department initiated a dialogue with the community and close to 40 – 50 Pardhi families chose a piece of land outside of the reserve and settled there. In order to further strengthen the relationship with the community, and to wean the younger generation away from hunting, and instead enjoy a dignified place in society, the Forest Department in association with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan helped build two hostels for both girls and boys.
While the hostels have been a boon for the empowerment of the younger generation, the hostel premises are available to students only until standard 8th according to government regulations. This in itself can cause a huge setback, as students who complete their education till class 8th tend to drop out due to hesitation to join other hostels and institutions owing to the stigma attached to this community and lack of acceptance in society.
Thus, the shortfall of resources coupled with the tribe’s history puts at risk the future of students who are in the danger of resorting to a nomadic lifestyle and furthermore hunting. In order to avoid this situation from arising, we’re working closely with this community to educate the children and to provide alternate livelihoods.
To provide support for continued education of the students will not only allow them to enjoy a dignified place in mainstream society and explore potential career opportunities but will further strengthen the resolve of other students to wean away from a nomadic life and follow the path set up by these students. Our promising students who are in classes 1st – 5th & 9th – 12th, need the necessary support for successful completion of their studies. The below mentioned activities are undertaken under this programme:
- Providing remedial/ tuition teachers to both the Pardhi hostels (boys & girls) for Class 1-5 & 9-12. Some students are also given private coaching.
- Training & curriculum for primary teachers for teaching methods for the Pardhi students.
- Financial support for all the students from Class 9 onwards until post graduation. This includes accommodation, food, travel etc.
- Providing fees for the students above Class 8.
- Uniform, clothes, books, bags, shoes, winter jackets, raincoats and other stationary items for the students
- Supplementary food for these students.
- Providing transport and equipment support for sports and other physical activities
- Skill Development for every student
- Counselling and mentoring from time-to-time for personality development and a successful career
5 of the students who were financially supported and passed out from the boys’ and girls’ hostel respectively, are now graduates. While the two boys successfully completed their graduation in B.Sc. Agriculture, the girls have completed their education in B.A. (Arts). These students are the first line of Pardhi graduates and while few of them want to study even further, some of them are in pursuit of a job in keeping with their degree. Our aim is to encourage more and more students to complete their schooling and to study further. Our Pardhi graduates have already set a standard in their community which is motivating other students to embrace education.
We wish to support the education of at least 14 Pardhi students through this initiative. The amount raised will be used not only for the educational expenses of the student, but will also include their medical expenses, nutrition, accommodation and extra curricular activities.
Last Wilderness Foundation has been working since 2009 towards wildlife conservation in the Central Indian landscape alongside forest communities who live in proximity to the forest with regard to alternative sources of livelihood. COVID-19 has significantly impacted the income of the community members, especially in the absence of tourism and the inability to travel outside for work. Today, support is needed to provide the safe & sustainable living for the communities who are dependent on the forest in these challenging times with regard to relief packages and economic resilience
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With the frontline staff being the backbone of a tiger reserve, it is important to provide them with a better standard of living and access to amenities that will help them perform their roles in a more efficient manner. To this effect, we are looking to provide solar panels (250 W) for about 200 chowkis at Panna tiger reserve. These solar panels will allow for smooth running of daily activities, as well as to run the chowki in an efficient manner by keeping the wireless , phones charged in case of emergencies.
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