While every school has adopted sports activities in their curriculum, some students are deprived of participating sometimes due to a short period dedicated to sports classes. However, another factor has come to the forefront and that is caste.
In some rural parts of Karnataka, casteism has a strong presence and it is deep rooted. The Dalits are still treated as untouchables or inferior. The problem of denying facilities or discriminating Dalits is mainly because casteism is still in practice in the society. Children learn from their elders. Unfortunately,they have learned to keep distance from their classmates belonging to Dalit families.
Lack of involvement with their fellow classmates in school may leave a mark of exclusion on them in the later part of their lives. Realizing this, Belgaum-based MASS
(Mahila Abhivruddi Mattu Samrakshana Samsthe), a non-profit organisation working mainly for women and children, started an education program to help the Dalit children. It set up learning centres called Child Activity Centres across Belgaum for their studies and overall development. It started with 40 such centres in one Taluka, Raibag, in 2006 and now there are as many as 70 Child Activity Centres in rural areas. These are run from a single room in one of the spaces allotted in the villages.
These centres work towards improving their performance at school and their overall development. They provide special tuition classes for students from Class 1 to Class 8, with an emphasis on subjects like English, Maths and Science. They conduct cultural and other leisure activities from time to time. Saturdays are dedicated to sports. Currently, around 3000 students attend these centres.
However, due to lack of sports facilities, the children play games like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Running, etc. The students are interested in playing football, cricket, badminton, chess, etc. Some of them dream of playing at the national level some day. MASS wants to help in fulfilling the dreams of the little ones.
The organisation will utilize the amount to purchase sports goods and accessories for the children of these activity centres.