Have we ever pondered this question, why are so many children out on the streets, while they have to be in school? We see so many children selling pens and stickers in traffic signal junctions, don’t they deserve an opportunity at life through education? Will they remain poor for the rest of their lives?
The fact that there remains no answer to such questions for most of us, is horrifying, as education is one of the basic needs of mankind, and the same has become a luxury to these children. India has seen a great number of children drop out of school during this pandemic season and is still recovering from this exodus.
As an NGO working closely with the children on prioritizing education and imbibing creativity in learning academic and Non-Academic aspects, we realized that it is our responsibility to understand the various catalysts that contribute to this problem and to curate solutions that would be long-lasting in bringing children back to school.
According to UNESCO, In India, over 1.5 million schools closed down due to the pandemic, affecting 286 million children from pre-primary to secondary levels. This adds to the 6 million girls and boys who were already out of school prior to COVID-19.
What are the reasons that lead to children dropping out of school? There are many factors that contribute to this, some of which are called out in this article.
Extreme Poverty forces children to support their families in their schooling years.
Many children financially assist their families by doing household chores in others’ houses. Especially girl children, go with their mothers as extra help and do household chores such as mopping, cleaning dusting, etc. Many earn daily wages, ranging from a mere 100 Rs to 300Rs. While boys are no exception, as they join mechanic shops, car wash centers, etc. The fact remains that they are cheap labor and hence many so-called educated men and women hire them. Thereby depriving them of their right to education and learning. The flow of money through a child eases the financial situation of poor families, and this becomes a habit and a necessity that cannot be eliminated any time soon. Costing these young children their childhood.
Lack of Interest
Education is hard work and a long-term investment. Many families from poorer backgrounds have never ventured into the path of education due to its long tedious process of learning and building personality. Many of these people are conditioned to believe that “education is hard” thereby leading to a lack of interest in the families of some children, making the decision for them to not enroll them into a school, or even discontinue their education after some time. The children from such poor communities have never seen an example around them, who has prioritized learning, and hence they themselves find this concept of education very alien to their upbringing. Though this reason sounds very trivial, this is a concerning problem that exists in every backward community in our Country.
Why does a girl need education? What will she do with it?
While some boys at least make it to their local government schools, the Girls, are deprived of education and voluntarily removed from the schooling system, for very frivolous reasons, one such reason being, that when a girl attains puberty either at the age of 10 and above, is removed from the schooling system, as the parents feel it is unsafe for her to go to school. Puberty is considered a milestone to prepare them for marriage, thereby not prioritizing their education. As an NGO, we struggle the most to convince parents to send their daughters to school and to educate them further. Despite the fact that their education will be completely sponsored with no monetary burden on them, many parents are not willing to send their daughters to school, considering their gender. Society’s stigmas on the female gender are so strongly imbibed in the hearts and minds of some communities that breaking those barriers to provide the right to education to each child irrespective of gender becomes a herculean task. However, no hope’s lost, as we constantly emphasize the importance of empowering our daughters with education and conduct awareness campaigns emphasizing the importance of education to end the domestic misery of women.
Therefore, bringing awareness on the hazards of illiteracy, and supporting families from poor and backward communities will encourage them to educate their children, They will understand the need for learning and how it will impact their child’s future. The question is, “Are you willing to drive this change?” If yes, Join us, as we support and spread awareness of Education and its power.
Author: Vibha is an advocate by profession and a teacher by heart. She is the co founder of Legal Chap, a law-firm based in Bengaluru. She has been an active catalyst in the empowerment of children and women by advocating for their safety. She has led elaborate and interactive workshops and serves on the executive teams of non-profit organizations that promote child welfare and legal awareness.