India's public school system reaches 250 million children through 1.5 million schools. The outcomes in education are demoralising as demonstrated by Teach for India and an annual primary school report (ASER) conducted by Pratham. The numbers are shocking:
- 40% of children in standard 3 cannot recognise numbers till 100
- 52% of children in Standard 5 cannot read Standard 2 text
- 76% of students don't make it to a higher education system!
The consistent inefficiencies of the school system that result in unemployable youth, and huge dropout rates do nothing to encourage the appalling enrollment figures. But there are many who have dedicated their lives to tackling the problem from several angles, and you can help.
For migrant workers across the country, enrolling their child in school is a logistical challenge, besides being unaffordable. Sunbeam Trust helps provide education to these children so they can continue to learn while their parents continue to work. For other families, food and shelter are barely affordable, let alone the costs of schooling. Isha Vidya is working to change that by awarding scholarships to those who cannot afford it covering tuition, books, and health supplements for an entire year.
You might ask though, what about the skills that can't be taught in schools? Children in metropolitan cities have the access and resources to learn a musical instrument, play a sport, visit a planetarium, and gain experiences that enrich their mind in a way that classroom learning cannot. BREAD Society recognises this need, and has set up more than 750 libraries that reach 3.5 lakh students a year. Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya celebrates the role of arts in learning, and incorporates musical education into the curriculum at their school in rural Karnataka.
Yet, many obstacles stand in the way of these children and suitable employment that will help uplift them out of poverty. Vidya Poshak provides financial assistance and also helps develop communication skills for children to seek employment after their tenth grade and pave their way to a brighter future.
There is a long way to go, and everyone could use your help – the children, the organisations working for their development, and the employers who would benefit from their skills. You can choose to lend your support to the cause you think will have the most impact. If all of us join hands, there might come a day when a child from a Mumbai slum and an elite Delhi school have access to the same opportunities.