Educating the poor is an investment in India’s future

India is a country with enormous potential, a GDP growth rate of 9% and two thirds of the population under 35, constituting a ready workforce.

Yet India lags behind many developing countries in the field of education, with only around 65% of the population literate and high instances of teacher absenteeism. While only 89% of students ever enter the school system, 34% have dropped out by the 5th standard, 45% by the 8th.

Andreamcleod


In an increasingly globalised economy, the only chance to secure a well paying job and escape the cycle of poverty is with at the very least a high school certificate. Many students feel pressured to drop out before finishing the 12th standard due to the need to work to support their families or because they can not afford to pay the high course fees needed for junior college.

In an increasingly globalised economy, the only chance to secure a well paying job and escape the cycle of poverty is with at the very least a high school certificate.

Since coming to India I have worked with two NGOs on issues of education, one focused on early childhood and primary schooling and one on higher education. The first NGO, Mumbai Mobile Creches (MMC) targets those children who usually fall through the cracks, the children of migrant workers on construction sites. In an effort to find work and earn a living, every year workers migrate from rural areas to the cities, often shifting locations every few weeks or months as they find work.

Often their children are never enrolled in school at all or drop out unable to cope with a constant shifting of schools and needing to care for younger siblings. MMC runs schools and day care centers on the construction sites themselves in order to care for the younger children and provide the older ones with the support and skills to enter mainstream schools and remain there.

Since March I have been working with Help A Child, an organization at the other end of the spectrum of education, ensuring that bright students from poor families are able to complete their higher education and ensure themselves and their families a better future. By sponsoring the education of students who have scored highly the organization ensures that students with the talent to excel do not miss out simply because their families do not have the funds to help them.

By focusing on this area alone we are able to make a difference to the lives of many students who would otherwise be unable to continue.

These are students who score exceptionally highly at school and have the potential to become doctors, engineers, teachers and scientists. However without financial assistance many would drop out of education early simply because their parents do not have the funds to help, and their potential will be wasted. While there are many organizations working to support education for students until the 10th standard, most do not have the required funds to support the students higher education. By focusing on this area alone we are able to make a difference to the lives of many students who would otherwise be unable to continue.

Working with both organizations I have had unforgettable experiences, from sipping chai with female labourers and discussing the importance of education to visiting students studying to become teachers in the one room huts they live in with their families where there is no electricity or sanitation.

The one thing that I have seen time and again is a realization among the children and young adults that education is the only way they can hope to escape poverty.

Having realized this they work hard to be able to succeed, usually without the benefits of coaching classes, as many are first generation learners they are unable to rely on their parents for help either

While working with these two organizations has been my personal experience there are many other organizations working on issues of education. Some, such as Akanksha and Pratham work to improve the learning capabilities of children as well as the quality of teaching within municipal schools.

What I have learnt in my two years here is that there can be no quick fix when it comes to the issues of either education or poverty, while there are immediate actions that can be taken to improve the lives of a few, any improvements have to be seen in the context of a long term strategy.

What I have learnt in my two years here is that there can be no quick fix when it comes to the issues of either education or poverty

Efforts to provide children from underprivileged families with the education they deserve must be include every angle of inequity whether it be enrollment rates, retention rates, quality of education or access to higher education.

The links between education and poverty are well known, as education levels within a society increase, birth rates and child mortality rates generally decrease while income levels improve. Education enables a person to stand on their own two feet and earn a decent living with their own talents. It creates a population able to contribute to India’s development, with a greater awareness of their own rights and responsibilities towards their country and fellow citizens.

There are many ways in which to help whether it be through donations or through the giving of your time.

There are many ways in which to help whether it be through donations or through the giving of your time. Many organizations have sponsorship programs for the children under the care or request donations towards the running of a center or a teacher’s salary. It is also possible to find volunteering opportunities whether it be interacting with preschool children to assisting in tuitions for underprivileged students completing high school. While the government does what it is able to, it is often the community that has the most impact on a child’s life at the grassroots level.

Education is one of the most powerful gifts that we can give to a child, the power to transform their future forever.

Share the gift and you will see the effects that it has not only upon the child but also their family, community and even their country.

About Andrea Mcleod: Andrea Mcleod moved to India 2 years ago to begin a career in the development sector and has been working at Help a Child since March. You can contact her to sponsor a student at andrea at somaiya dot com

Connect with Andrea: BlogAdda, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Ed: Thank you Andrea for this wonderful post. It’s so very relevant!


12 Replies to “Educating the poor is an investment in India’s future”

  1. really nice article..kudos to you for working in this sector..education needs a lot more emphasis from the govt. too..which has to managed by people of repute ..loads of money is doled out to the education but nothing really reaches at the grass root level!!

  2. hi, nice thoughts and completely true.. has to start from us, would suggest, using ur charm, intelligence and honesty.. you can use your group of friends ( incl me) to do some thing smaller.. and gradually take it to next level.. I strongly feel there are many individuals, who genuinely wants to do many things, but dont know what to do, where to head….. am sure we would be able to bring in a significant change 🙂 whilst saying really cant stop admiring your relentless efforts and passion in bringing this change.. Good luck!

  3. Andrea, Keep it up. It is really a nice article and may attract many too come forward with charity.

  4. Quite informational about what work is happening – education is important and what these organizations/you are doing is a hard problem. India is such a large country, people acting locally can make a difference, govts cannot be banked upon completely -hopefully these efforts bear fruit. Good Luck! Can you publish contact information (phone #/websites) for these orgnizations so that one could get in touch and see how to help out?

  5. I fully agree that poor children – especially girls are supported by governmental schemes, many are not able to either avail of or reach such facilities. More so for higher education as the needs do not end with fees and books. Many children opt out of higher education on account of accompanying expenses which no one thinks of sponsoring. NGOs should give attention towards this aspect too like providing the essential materials for an acceptable social mix with peers at the higher learning centers. I come across many NGOs concentrate working either in big cities and metros and surroundings only. It is necessary to support children from rural area too. However any effort to usher in education amongst the deprived deserves kudos. God bless you and multiply the flock.

  6. I heartily appreciate the work you are involved in.Our little help help these deprived,unpriviledged children to change their lot.Your thoughts are so lovely and touching.We promise to do something concrete in that direction. Thank U and good luck for this noble social work.

  7. Really nice article and really appreciate your work..Want to thank first.Need a little help.I have formed a small group before few months with my friends to support the poor student’s financially for their studies..All of us are working in different locations and contributing a small part of our monthly salary in common account.Openly to say we have a thought of helping the poor and taken this step but need some guidance and some ideas to carry forward.

    I created a blog for it recently and I’m posting the activities tht we are carrying out could any of you visit and advise as how to continue it in successful manner.

  8. There are lot of problems in India regarding defecation.
    Are we leaving in British Raj or free India????
    Government earlier has phrased a term “mulgi shikli pragati jhali”
    Now many Indian daughters in spite of school leaving certificate and birth certificate needs domicile certificate for higher education

    Wat do u thing about it??
    I think we are still in Indian Political Raj which is similar to British Raj.
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/highereduaction/

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