I recently undertook a primary survey across the 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 4 siblings and her parents were household workers with a meagre income. Laxmi was the eldest sister and worked part-time as a helper in a few households. Her day started at 5:00 am when she could complete her homework in the daylight, followed by taking care of the siblings and feeding them. Afterwards, she went with her mother to work in a few households before going to school. When she gets back home , she gets preoccupied with cleaning, cooking, working and scrapping for food with her siblings.
The family lived in a small tent and her father was a tobacco addict. The family could barely afford basic necessities and food. Laxmi enthusiastically showed me her artwork 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 rise in the number of children enrolled in schools. This is sometimes attributed to the success of government schemes like the mid-day meal, however when examined closely the picture becomes much more bleak and dreary . 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 can solve basic problems such as 4 divided by 2, which truly points at the futility of rise in such enrollment rates. Moreover, absenteeism rates are also high. In lieu of such apathetic circumstances I came across Pehchaan The street school.
An organization that was intensively working towards providing free education to underprivileged children like residing in slums. I immediately wished to be a part of this effort. I could evidently see the results of their efforts 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 the education at the right level to all age-age- groups so that the real learning and understanding can be enhanced. It is my privilege to work with Pehchaan The Street School, which true to it’s title , is working to provide an independent identity to the children.
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By: Manvi Jindal