Meri News (29 August 2012)
India is a country with one of the largest network of primary schools in the world. However, at least 80 lakh children have never seen a school and among the rest who have seen a school, only 15 per cent reach high school level.
India is a country with the largest young population on one side and the largest population of children outside schools on the other. The problem is much more complex than it looks. Despite efforts from the government, public and non-government organizations much more is still left to be done.
The first and foremost aim is to bring all of India’s children to the education system. Then the quality of education needs to be matched with those in the developed countries. This will play a big role in bringing the whole young generation into the mainstream.
Smile Foundation has been working on the child education aspects through one of its flagship programmes named Mission Education since 2002, which aims at bringing out-of-school children into the ambit of education. With the help of relevant and quality education, it is intended that the children will bring about changes in knowledge and skills level, acquire right habits and attitude, thereby enabling them to become socially aware, informed and accepted into the mainstream.
Since its inception in 2002, Smile Foundation has been focusing on universal education through its Mission Education programme. It has so far directly supported the education of 200,000 underprivileged children across 25 states in India.
Smile Foundation believes that whether you are addressing healthcare, poverty, population control, unemployment or human rights, there is no better place to start than in the corridors of education. Because education is the means to a better life, as it empowers an individual to earn his/her livelihood and also increases one’s awareness on a range of issues – from healthcare to appropriate social behaviour to understanding one’s rights; and in the process helps an individual to evolve as a better citizen.
Smile Foundation’s Mission Education initiatives cover children under difficult circumstances such as child labour, children of poorest of the parents, children inflicted and affected with HIV/AIDS, street and runaway children, disaster struck children and slum children among others.
“I want to become a police officer. I want to find my lost mother”
In this case, this little girl grows up aspiring to be a police officer. Namrata clearly remembers the way her mother and father continuously kept on disagreeing, arguing and even getting into physical fights with ultimately the father injuring the mother seriously. Namrata witnessed this from the time she was born, but started reacting to it only from the age of three.
As soon as they would start fighting, little Namrata would hide herself under the bed, in an attempt to be able to shut herself from the noise and the tension. Because of all the stress at home, the parents never thought of sending Namrata to school. This way of life for Namrata and her family, continued for a while.
It was only when Namrata turned six that one evening her mother just disappeared. Nobody knew where and why; she had gone, leaving everyone behind; and especially little Namrata. The little girl kept asking for her mother for several days and refused to eat anything at all.
Namrata’s father, himself perplexed by the circumstances, had almost given up on her when her aunt intervened and got her enrolled in a nearby Mission Education centre in Virar. And that happened to be the turning point for the little one. She devoted all her time and efforts in doing well in her studies, oblivious to the external world. And the result, she passed her SSC with 72% marks.
Motherless, from a poor family and a girl; the situation could not get worse for Namrata. But thanks to her aunt and her father, she did not land up being married early; instead she has developed into a capable young girl. She is now studying Commerce and wants to be a police officer. The reason – she wants to find her mother. “I love my father a lot, but I miss my mother,” says Namrata with moist eyes.