I recently undertook a primary survey across slum areas to ascertain the number of children going to school. I had the pleasure of meeting Laxmi, who was enrolled in grade 7. She had four siblings and her parents were household workers with a meagre income. Laxmi was the oldest sister and worked part-time as a helper in a few households. Her day started at 5:00 a.m., she would complete her homework in the daylight, then take care of the siblings and feed them. Afterwards, she and her mother worked in a few households before she went to school. When she got back home, Laxmi would be preoccupied with cleaning, cooking and working with her siblings.
The family lived in a small tent and her father was a tobacco addict. They could barely afford basic necessities and food. Laxmi enthusiastically showed me her art work and she could easily solve hard mathematics problems. Although the school fee was minimal, it was causing a huge dent in the meagre family income which was heavily burdened by the drug addictions of her father. Laxmi shared with me how she was being pressurized by her parents to quit school and work full time.
The present economic estimates clearly indicate a rise in the number of children enrolled in schools. This is sometimes attributed to the success of government schemes like the mid-day meal programme, however when examined closely, the picture becomes much more bleak. Although students are enrolled in school, there is a severe lack of learning and understanding. In a recent study it was observed that only 30% of the children enrolled in grade 2 to grade 5 could solve basic problems such as 4 divided by 2, which truly points to the futility of rise in enrollment rates. Moreover, absenteeism is a major issue. In the midst of such apathetic circumstances I came across Pehchaan The Street School, an organization that was working towards providing free education to underprivileged children.
I immediately wished to be a part of this effort. I could see the results of their hard work and how it was helpful in providing a chance to children like Laxmi to follow their dreams and break the vicious cycle of poverty. Not only is it focused on providing free education but also on providing education at the right level to all age-groups so that real learning and understanding can be enhanced. It is my privilege to work with Pehchaan The Street School, which true to its title, is working to provide an independent identity to underprivileged children.
If you too wish to join, Click Here
By: Manvi Jindal