There is no hiding the fact that education is one of the most powerful forces to bring children and young people out of poverty. Education can give people opportunities to achieve their goals, and develop into citizens who contribute, as change agents, to their societies.
But education extends beyond the classroom. Our After School Programs (ASPs) in India have the goal of improving the quality of learning amongst school dropouts, unemployed youth, and children who attend disadvantaged schools.
Through special tutoring services, hundreds of children affected by violence, addictions and poverty are learning many valuable skills and lessons each year.
“ASPs not only help the targeted children achieve their educational goals, but also serve as a strategy to build change agents within the younger generation,” says a project manager in India.
In one ASP, 25 children between the ages of 12 to 15 years had the opportunity to attend an awareness session on child rights. This was significant in a community where issues of child labour, school dropouts, domestic slavery of children are commonly seen. The session coordinator shared, “I feel that the event enabled children to speak about their issues, what is happening around them, and allowed for children to connect with each other and build trust.”
In another ASP, underprivileged children from nearby villages were given opportunities to take computer and spoken English classes, and join in change agent and sporting activities. “We engaged children in lessons, group activities, competitions, games, essay writing, reading, songs, skits and dance,” says an ASP coordinator. However, a big challenge is that of education being under-valued by parents. This issue, raised by the children themselves, was addressed through the initiation of parents’ meetings on weekends.
“We believe parental involvement is a motivating factor for students to continue learning,” shared an ASP coordinator.
“In one awareness meeting we ran for the parents of school dropouts, parents openly shared the reasons for stopping the education of children.” ASP staff encouraged the parents and explained the value and importance of education for both girls and boys.
Some of the parents’ concerns are as follow:
- “We are uneducated so we fail to understand the importance of education for our children.”
- “We don’t have sufficient money to provide good education or continue education of our children.”
- “We are afraid to send our young girls to schools as there is no proper transport facilities in our villages.”
“Many of the students we work with have had a break of one to four years in their studies. Most of them do tamarind deseeding work in their homes and few are daily wage labours in the market. Some girls are the breadwinners for the family.”
The regular visits by program staff with students and their families are proving effective. The students are learning how to prioritise education, manage both studies and work, and prepare for upcoming exams. And family members have been expressing the positive attitudinal changes towards learning opportunities they have seen in nearly almost 80% of the children.
To continue to help empower young children break out of poverty, develop holistic life skills, and influence the decisions that affect their lives, please donate to our Next Generation Fund or call (+61) 02 6586 4250 today.
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