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Puja Sarkar
Date of Publish: 2017-08-01




Adolescents in Assam tea garden areas trained to use folklore to fight social vulnerabilities


Folklore and folk-art forms are always the closest to the heart of every individual belonging to a community. The UNICEF and the District Children and Adolescence Cell of Sivasagar have leveraged on this element to launch a pilot project in Sivasagar district in Assam to engage with adolescent population among the most dowtrodden and underprivielged Adivasi community in tea garden areas to create awareness on various pertinent issues and vulnerabilities encountered by them.

The objective of this innovative project- Folklore for Social change-is to train the adolescents in the use of folk-art forms for community mobilisation and awareness on issues such as chid marriage, early pregnancy, dropout from schools, alcohol consumption that affect their lives and the communities at large.

The tea industry of Assam plays a vital role in the state as well as in the national economy. Tea is a labour intensive industry. It requires workers at every stage of its work right from plantation to plucking, manufacturing and then finally dispatching it to different market. Workers are the main strength of tea industry and its success. They are like the heart and soul of the tea plantation. Assam accounts for 56 per cent of the country’s total tea production. The tea industry in the state employs around 5 lakh permanent workers and an equal number casual workers.

Unfortunately, the living condition of the tea workers are not ideal. They hardly get a chance to live a healthy life. They are the most backward and exploited tribes of Assam. Though their new generation is comparatively educated but still the conditions are same. Maternal mortality rate is very high in tea garden areas in the state. Apart from this, incidences of child marriage, early pregnancy, school dropout, trafficking, child labour, alcohol and gutka consumption are the major problem of their life. It is presumed that they are not educated enough to understand their rights. And to understand what is right and what is wrong. Interventions by various NGOs also have also failed to produce the desired results.


The purpose of this project is to train the adolescent group in their own folk form, their local idiom as a novel way of passing on message of social value. The main objective of the project is to realize social change and development by disseminating knowledge for development through the available folk idioms of various ethnic communities of Assam. In order to achieve this, the aim is to train adolescents as agents of social change. This training will help to empower adolescence with skills and knowledge so that they are able to demand their rights and are able to mobilize their respective communities to get over challenging situations affecting their lives.


The project has been implemented in four different blocks of Sivasagar- Amguri, Demow, Nazira and Sivasagar town. In these four blocks, eight workshops were conducted. The objective of this innovative project- Folklore for Social change-is to train the adolescents in the use of folk-art forms for community mobilisation and awareness on issues that affect their lives and the communities at large. It is believed that adolescents’ as ‘change agents’ have immense potential to catalyze positive change in society because it is the ripe age to harness transformative beginnings capitalizing on the unbounded energy, enthusiasm and optimism that celebrates the transition of childhood to adulthood.

To train the adolescents, a trained group of people, who have expertise in folklore, has been roped in. They act as trainers as well as facilitator for the workshop. The issues discussed in the workshops included child marriage, school dropout, alcohol and tobacco consumption, child labor. Trainers trains the adolescents to write some new lyrics incorporating messages of the ill effects of child marriage, prevention of alcohol consumption and gutka chewing, school dropouts, also focusing on the benefits of completing school and also train them to perform these lyrics in the traditional tune. As a result, they have come up with new folk songs with social messages. The project is expected to create the awareness among the targeted group which in turn can be hoped to take the initiative for uplift of the community.

Puja Sarkar

( Puja Sarkar is the Project Coordinator of Sikun Reilef Foundation and is also engaged in various projects with UNICEF)

Photographs used in this feature were taken by Puja Sarkar


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