“Education is the passport for the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepared for it today.” – Malcolm X
One of the most important requirements of current times is education during early childhood. As rightly said by Malcolm X, it is a passport to a better future and the one that needs to be provided to every child by the authorities.
The Problem in Education Sector
In India, a country of 1.35 billion people, there are over 472 million children making for the 39% of the country’s population. Out of this number, over 35 million children have never been to a school as per National Sample Survey Office (NSSO, 2014). Even with more than 1.5 million schools, early childhood education is a neglected topic for children living in urban slums and remote rural areas.
The problem isn’t just with poverty and ignorance when it comes to child education, but also the lack of infrastructure and adequate resources in the schools. While 29% of the schools are private, they are inaccessible to the 22% of the people who are below poverty line (Census 2011). Over 92,000 elementary and secondary level schools in the country have only one teacher in the school.
A large number of schools do not even have basic amenities like water supply, toilets, and even blackboards or a roof over the classroom at times. For a wholesome development of a child, a wholesome curriculum involving academics, sports, and recreational activities is necessary. However, in a scenario where children do not even have water to clean and drink, access to everything else becomes a luxury.
While the attendance in schools has increased significantly, the major reason for which is the mid-day meals offered in government schools. However, the environment and infrastructure required for the wholesome growth of the children are still missing in a significant number of these schools.
Smile Foundation’s Intervention
In a bid to provide the children the relevant requirements to develop in a safe and healthy space, Smile Foundation has associated with government authorities to improvise the learning conditions in the government schools.
The intervention includes providing students with books and uniform to installing water purifiers, building toilets as well as providing teachers to fill in for the deficiency of qualified and trained staff.
One such association current active is in a small heavily industrial town of Dahej, 55 kms from Bharuch in the state of Gujarat. With the entire area housing some of the poorest families, the need of children getting quality education becomes even more crucial. Smile’s intervention has been in terms of building toilets, setting up water purifier, and providing teachers for three subjects in this school.
Sensitizing Parents and the Community
Besides providing resources, sensitization of parents towards children to school is also regularly conducted by the Mission Education representative. More than half the children belong to extremely poor household where both parents work as daily labourers. Parents are reluctant to send children to school, specially girls, for they can contribute as an income source and assist in bringing one more plate of food to the family.
Most children drop out of school after class 8th from this government school since the nearest higher education government school is in the city at a distance of 20 kms from the area. The parents are also encouraged by our agent to let the children continue on to higher education so that they can have a stronger and brighter future.
With each intervention, no matter how small, we are bringing a change that we hope to turn into a wave of transformation in the lives of the poorest. The best means to break the cycle of poverty is by educating the young and the same requires the support of both the teachers and parents, as well as authorities entrusted with the responsibility of providing opportunities to every child in the country.
To know more about early childhood education and help children go to school, click on: https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/me/