This statement cannot be denied. However in India – a country where over one third of the population is children, millions of them do not have access to this very basic right. Every sixth child in the world lives in India – however many of them are not able to go to school or remain connected to education.
Over the years with increased focus on getting children enrolled, primary school enrollments in India have gone up significantly and now most states can boast of a primary school enrollment rate of above 90%. However, the bigger issue lies in retaining children, once they have been enrolled. The reasons why children drop out of school are multiple – sometimes secondary schools are too far away from home and therefore parents are hesitant about letting their children travel longer distances to get there, schools often do not have proper infrastructure and facilities including clean drinking water or toilets – the latter being one of the big reasons why girls drop out of school once they hit puberty, teachers are often absent or there aren’t enough teachers – so children lose interest and stop coming to school. Many children also belong to families where parents do not have proper jobs and live in abject poverty – so children also take up menial jobs to supplement meager family incomes. They also migrate with their families to find work and lose touch with their schools and education. Many of these children are also first generation learners and therefore receive little or no support from their families to continue their education.
The girl child is at a further disadvantage because she has to contend with gender discrimination and often has to stay at home to look after younger siblings or take care of household chores while parents are at work. They are also married off early and lose touch with education.
Therefore, while enrollment into primary education is a hurdle we have successfully battled with arresting drop outs and ensuring retention is the need of the hour to ensure that children have a strong foundation and a future that is rightfully theirs.
This year at CRY we are focussing on ensuring that children once connected to education, remain in school and don’t drop out. The aim is to help people understand exactly what needs to be corrected and how they can support children to ensure their dreams become a reality.