Page 1

08:30-15:45


08:27-15:42 08:28-15:43 08:29-15:44 08:30-15:45 08:3 1-15:46 08:32-15:47 08:33-15:48 08:34-15:49 08:35-15:50 JENAI KAVARANA


FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION to all children up to the age of 14 is constitutional commitment in India. The parliament of India has recently passed, ‘Right to Education Act’ through which education has become a fundamental right of all children of age group 6-14 years.


INTRODUCTION

This book is a collection of photographs that I have taken of the children on the streets of Mumbai during school hours (8.30-15.00). They represent the large proportion of children out of school. According to the Census of 2011, ‘every person above the age of 7 who can read and write in any language is said to be literate’ and in 2011 the national literacy rate of India is said to be around 74.07% with female literacy of an average of 65% and male at 82%. The 2001 statistics indicated the total number of ‘absolute nonliterates’ in the country was 304,000,000. So what are we as a nation doing to change these rates? The key challenge lies in making sure children enroll and participate in a school curriculum. There is no financial strain on their parents as ‘The Right to Education Act’ states that free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 is a constitutional commitment in India and education is the fundamental right of all children of the age group 6-14 years.


The number of out of school children has decreased from 25,000,000 in 2003 to an estimated 8,100,000 in 2009 (most of these children who are not enrolled are from marginalized social groups). Education is an important avenue for upgrading the economic and social conditions o the Scheduled Caste population. Improvements in educational attainments have invariably been accompanied by improvement in health and longevity of the population and in their economic well-being. Educated people are likely to be more productive and hence better off. They are also likely to contribute more to a country’s economic growth. Education also reinforces the socioeconomic dynamics of a society towards opportunities for its people. Education is therefore, the best social investment and should be a priority for countries seeking to develop and sustain their level and pace of development. The Indian Government has vowed to fix primary education for the past two decades but a survey carried out by ASER, an NGO pointed out the appalling quality of education on offer. Half of ten year olds could not read to the basic standard expected of 6 year olds and over 60% could not do simple division. One reason is that, according to a World Bank Study, only half of Indian teachers show up to work and half of Indian children leave school by the age of 14.


GENDER DISCRIMINATION


This chapter looks at the gender discrimination which is still very prevalent in modern day India. The logo represents the chapter in a visual way as it shows how the females aren’t given as much importance as males within society (this extends to education) thus the gradient fade. As girls carry the liability of dowry and leave the family home after marriage, parents may prefer to have male offspring and as an effect female health, education, prosperity and freedom are all impacted. Many babies are aborted, abandoned or deliberately neglected and underfed simply because they are girls. This can be seen in the fact that female mortality rates amongst 0-4 year olds in India are 107% of male mortality rates, whereas the comparable number in Western Europe is 74%. Further evidence of the imbalance is that the female/male ratio within the general population of India is unnaturally low at 927/1000. Gender discrimination is particularly evident in education where boys are more likely to attend school and to do so for more years. The traditional place of the woman is in the home and so many parents and children consider education for girls to be a waste of time, especially when the child can instead be working or performing domestic chores. Only 38% of Indian women are literate and, at 64%, the gender parity between literacy rates amongst Indian women and men is one of the most unequal in the world.


Child Marriage is another way in which girls are disadvantaged. In addition to limiting educational possibilities and stunting personal development, early marriage carries health risks. A girl under 15 is five times more likely to die during pregnancy than a woman in her twenties; her child is also more likely to die. The Indian National Government has banned the practice of "dowry", but it is still widely practiced that a wife will bring a dowry into a marriage. For children of impoverished families or homeless girls, the lack of family support makes dowry impossible. This further constrains their choices. The ratio of female:male homeless children is 1:10. This is explained by the awareness among young girls that they are very vulnerable to exploitation: violence, sexual abuse or being sold into prostitution where many will die of AIDS or simply "disappear" out of sight.


The Right to Education Act pronounces that the state must ensure a school in every child’s neighbourhood and every school must conform to certain minimum standards defined by the Bill. Though the Bill prohibits any person from preventing a child from participating in elementary education, it does not adequately address the issue of child labour. A child who both works at home and attends school faces the problem of ‘double burden’. For example, the Bill ignores the issue of sibling care, which deters elder siblings (typically girls) from attending school. The older female siblings are often left with the responsiility of bringing up their younger siblings and have to make a lot of sacrifices to do so. Education is often neglected as they have to fend for themselves and their family. Begging whilst holding their baby siblings is a common tactic used to help influence how much money they are able to earn whilst begging.


+ HEALTH AND DISEASE


+ Poor health is a chronic problem for street children. Half of all children in India are malnourished, but for street children the proportion is much higher. These children are not only underweight, but their growth has often been stunted; for example, it is very common to mistake a 12 year old for an 8 year old. Street children live and work amidst trash, animals and open sewers. Not only are they exposed and susceptible to disease, they are also unlikely to be vaccinated or receive medical treatment. Only two in three Indian children have been vaccinated against TB, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio and Measles; only one in ten against Hepatitis B. Most street children have not been vaccinated at all. They usually cannot afford, and do not trust, doctors or medicines. If they receive any treatment at all it will often be harmful, as with kids whose parents place scalding metal on their bellies as a remedy for persistent stomach pain. Child labourers suffer from exhaustion, injury, exposure to dangerous chemicals, plus muscle and bone afflictions. There is much ignorance about reproductive health and many girls suffer needlessly. A girl made infertile by an easily-preventable condition may become unmarryable and so doomed to a life of even greater insecurity and material hardship. The HIV/AIDS rate amongst Indian adults is 0.7% and so has not yet reached the epidemic rates experienced in Southern Africa. However, this still represents 5 million people, or about 1 in 7 in of those in the world who have the disease. The rate amongst children is lower, but because street children are far more sexually active than their Indian peers and because many are even prostitutes they are thus hugely at risk of contracting the disease. AIDS awareness, testing and treatment exist, but less so for street children than other demographic groups.


The knowledge and processes of educating the disabled children or ‘special education’ as it is known now, came to India in the last two decades of the 19th century through Christian missionaries. While special education enables the teachers to focus on the needs disabled children and these special schools are equipped with the resources that are required as per the needs of the disabled children. However, the special education system is based on the principle of segregation and not integration and is considered to be an expensive option, and at the same is considered to be violative of human rights. In the Indian scenario, it turns out be an expensive investment and other alternatives need to be evaluated, analysed and decided upon soon, so that the goal of ‘education for all’ is realized as is not cost effective in the rural area where the infrastructure is not at par with the urban India. It also leads to the segregation of the disabled and the same time is also considered to be violative of the Human Rights as it leads to the formation of a specific disability culture.


CASTE AND POVERTY


Poverty is the prime cause of the street children crisis. Children from welloff families do not need to work, or beg. They live in houses, eat well, go to school, and are likely to be healthy and emotionally secure. Poverty dumps a crowd of problems onto a child. Not only do these problems cause suffering, but they also conspire to keep the child poor throughout his/her life. In order to survive, a poor child in India will probably be forced to sacrifice education and training; without skills the child will, as an adult, remain at the bottom of the economic heap. There’s more to life than economic growth. Economic prosperity is not sufficient but it is definitely necessary when hundreds of millions are trapped in poverty. China provides evidence that six percent growth is possible for a large country. The caste system also plays a huge role in poverty. Children are discriminated against for being born with a certain social status and can even make him/her ‘untouchable’ to others. Of course, this also creates problems in schools. When someone from one of the lowest castes goes to admit his or her children to school, it can very well happen that the teacher, principal or official sitting there asks ‘Why do you want your children to go to school? It is not necessary!’ and often they are just denied the right to admit children in schools.


Most children from lower castes are denied acceptance into private schools and schools run by the government often have very less value of education. Teachers don’t come, simply don’t give classes or the school building is used as a cowshed or storage space. Even in schools where children of lower castes are admitted, there is often a lot of discrimination from the side of fellow students, teachers and even the school management. There are problems in the classes, in breaks and in lunch times when higher caste students refuse to eat food made by lower caste people or refuse to eat together with their classmates of lower castes.


HOMELESSNESS


Street children in India may be homeless because their family is homeless through poverty or migration, or because they have been abandoned, orphaned or have run away. It is not unusual to see whole families living on the sidewalks of Jaipur, or rows of individual children sleeping around the railway station. Homeless children have the odds stacked against them. They are exposed to the elements, have an uncertain supply of food, are likely miss out on education and medical treatment, and are at high risk of suffering addiction, abuse and illness. A single child alone on the streets is especially vulnerable.


The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act extends to the whole of India (except the State of Jammu and Kashmir). It states that every child of the age of sex to fourteen years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education.


= THE AKANKSHA FOUNDATION


= The Akanksha Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to impact the lives of children from low-income communities, enabling them to maximize their potential and transform their lives. Akanksha works primarily in the field of education, addressing non-formal education through the Akanksha center and also formal education by initiating school reform. Currently, Akanksha reaches out to over 4000 children through two  models: the after-school center model and the school model. Akanksha has 47 centers and 9 schools between Mumbai and Pune. Through the centers, a commitment is made to support each child by providing a strong educational foundation, good time, self-esteem and values, and to help them plan how they can earn a steady livelihood as a step towards improving their standard of living.  The School Project is a venture to open high-quality schools serving  children from low-income communities in Mumbai and Pune.  These schools are in partnership with local municipalities, with the vision of creating small clusters of model schools in these cities that can be used to impact the mainstream education system. Their slogan, ‘Be The Change’  really stood out to me because their foundation is helping children grow out of the poverty cycle and ensures that they can have a chance at a  better, brighter future. Like Akansha, there are other NGOs running similar programs and giving hope to children from unprivileged homes.


+


FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION to all children up to the age of 14 is constitutional commitment in India. The parliament of India has recently passed, ‘Right to Education Act’ through which education has become a fundamental right of all children of age group 6-14 years.

Child Marriage is another way in which girls are disadvantaged. In addition to limiting educational possibilities and stunting personal development, early marriage carries health risks. A girl under 15 is five times more likely to die during pregnancy than a woman in her twenties; her child is also more likely to die. The Indian National Government has banned the practice of "dowry", but it is still widely practiced that a wife will bring a dowry into a marriage. For children of impoverished families or homeless girls, the lack of family support makes dowry impossible. This further constrains their choices. The ratio of female:male homeless children is 1:10. This is explained by the awareness among young girls that they are very vulnerable to exploitation: violence, sexual abuse or being sold into prostitution where many will die of AIDS or simply "disappear" out of sight.


The Right to Education Act pronounces that the state must ensure a school in every child’s neighbourhood and every school must conform to certain minimum standards defined by the Bill. Though the Bill prohibits any person from preventing a child from participating in elementary education, it does not adequately address the issue of child labour. A child who both works at home and attends school faces the problem of ‘double burden’. For example, the Bill ignores the issue of sibling care, which deters elder siblings (typically girls) from attending school. The older female siblings are often left with the responsiility of bringing up their younger siblings and have to make a lot of sacrifices to do so. Education is often neglected as they have to fend for themselves and their family. Begging whilst holding their baby siblings is a common tactic used to help influence how much money they are able to earn whilst begging.


The knowledge and processes of educating the disabled children or ‘special education’ as it is known now, came to India in the last two decades of the 19th century through Christian missionaries. While special education enables the teachers to focus on the needs disabled children and these special schools are equipped with the resources that are required as per the needs of the disabled children. However, the special education system is based on the principle of segregation and not integration and is considered to be an expensive option, and at the same is considered to be violative of human rights. In the Indian scenario, it turns out be an expensive investment and other alternatives need to be evaluated, analysed and decided upon soon, so that the goal of ‘education for all’ is realized as is not cost effective in the rural area where the infrastructure is not at par with the urban India. It also leads to the segregation of the disabled and the same time is also considered to be violative of the Human Rights as it leads to the formation of a specific disability culture.

Most children from lower castes are denied acceptance into private schools and schools run by the government often have very less value of education. Teachers don’t come, simply don’t give classes or the school building is used as a cowshed or storage space. Even in schools where children of lower castes are admitted, there is often a lot of discrimination from the side of fellow students, teachers and even the school management. There are problems in the classes, in breaks and in lunch times when higher caste students refuse to eat food made by lower caste people or refuse to eat together with their classmates of lower castes.


The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act extends to the whole of India (except the State of Jammu and Kashmir). It states that every child of the age of sex to fourteen years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education.


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