These children are out of school and devoid of art of living

Last year MalalaYousafzai gave a passionate speech at the United Nations on her birth day, in which she said “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child,one teacher,one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution.” To change the word in our country, many children are devoid of this weapon. They have either never attended school or have left school without completing primary education.
Recently the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a report which says that India has the fifth highest number of out-of-school children in the world and the highest number of out-of-school adolescents. Report says that in the year 2011, India had 1.4 million children out of school.Globally, number of out of school children aged 6 to 11 is 58 million.Most of them will never start school and those who do are at risk of dropping out. There are significant gaps in the education of older children aged 12 to 15. In 2012, worldwide 63 million adolescents were out of school.
As per the report of UNICEF, India faces major shortages of schools, classrooms and teachers particularly in rural areas where 90 percent of child labor problem is observed. Definitely there is improvement in literacy rates, but the number of children who are not in school is still high. However, UNESCO report says that despite these high numbers India suffered the largest cuts in aid to basic education from 2010-2012 of any country in the world.World Bank’s “Student Learning in South Asia” report found evidence that many children were leaving schools without having learned enough to prepare them for college, or a decent paying job. Same report says that 15 million girls and 10 million boys constituting around 43 per cent of those out of school are unlikely to ever get access to primary education, if the current situation remains the same.
Poverty is the most crucial factor responsible for the incidence of out of school children. For some of the families, children’s income constitutes 25% to 40% of the family income. They do not understand the importance of education at an early age and parents do not unwelcome the extra money. Parents with limited resources have to choose between the boy and the girl when a school is available. Girls are last to get admissions in schools. Gender disparity shows its existence and foils all the facade of equality.
Children, especially from marginalized social and economic groups,are denied an opportunity for schooling. Children from poor households are three times more likely to be out of school than children from rich households.In comparison to boys, girls are two times more likely to be out of school. The World Bank study reports that average attendance is at least 15% to 30% lower than enrollment rates.
In India, according to the 2011 census, 43 lakh children, in the age group of 5 to 14 years, are engaged in various economic activities. 32.7 lakh children are working in rural areas where as 10.8 lakh children are laborers in urban areas. United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 70% of child labor is deployed in agriculture and related activities like farming, livestock rearing and fisheries.
Children who don’t get education fail to develop both, physically and mentally. They can’t differentiate the right from wrong and hence tread down the wrong path in life causing them to self-destruct. Very early in their life, they are caught in the unending loophole of vices. Their meager income spent mostly on cigarettes, chewing tobacco, alcohol and drugs.They suffer from the chronic disease of poverty and their health spirals down facing verbal, psychological and sexual abuse.
According to Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution, all children between the ages of 6 to 14 should be provided with free and compulsory education. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, provides every child a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.Article 21-A and the RTE Act came into effect on 1 April 2010. There are enough laws to ensure free and compulsory education to every young mind but no executive body effective enough to implement them.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme was started by government of India in 2001. It has been able to bring the children to school but has failed to retain them and high incidence of drop out emerges to be the most critical problem facing the Indian education scenario. For millions of poor Indian families, the mid- day meal is the only full meal their children eat in a day. That encourages them to send them to school, but its corrupt management is becoming a deterrent. Last year at least 23 children, between 4 and 8 years old, died due to poisonous midday meal at a primary school in the village of Dharmashati Gandaman in the Saran district of Bihar. Several complaints of finding frog, lizard, cockroach, rats, insects, worms and fungus in poor quality meals, regularly come to notice from different parts of the country.
Another deterrents for the students are poor response of the teachers and the lack of infrastructure in the schools. IT czar Azim Premji has recently opined that there is a need for deeply committed teachers. Out of country’s around 6 million teachers only 20% are deeply committed. Remaining 60% are willing to learn and 20% are not sincere and committed.
Teachers of government schools complain that they are being deployed for odd jobs, like different types of surveys, census, elections and polio.Teachers are unable to dedicate sufficient time to the student being saddled with numerous non-teaching assignments. How do you expect normal classes to be held if the teachers are out of school? The biggest irony is that they are out-of-school persuading children to attend classes while the attending ones wait.
Major challenge is to bring out-of-school children into classes and then to motivate them to stay and pursue further education. Children should be empowered through education and skill enhancement. As Aristotle said “Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well”.

[author image=”” ]I am Ritvik Khare[/author]

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