Every Child Is Special

child.jpgThe drop out rate in schools is not only a crucial indicator of the faults in our education system, but also the slippery eel of the literary statistics. India has the largest population of non-school going, working children. The Constitution guarantees free primary education for both boys and girls up to the age of 14. This goal has been repeatedly reiterated, but the target has never been achieved. The plans of providing free education to all children below 14 years of age has been on the agenda for a long time, yet very few of them have been executed. In recent times, the UNICEF came up with a new strategy to curb this problem of school drop-outs and increase the literacy rate among the children in India.The first mobile school was launched in January 2007 in Philippines. It has since then benefited 6000 students and visited 71 sites in Luzon. In India, UNICEF launched 22 primary mobile schools for children in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh on November, 2007. This initiative was taken by UNICEF with the help of district administration and a local Non-Governmental Organization, Lok Vikas Evam Anusandhan Trust. This attempt has been made by UNICEF to lower the illiteracy rate among Indian children, especially for the girl child. The primary aim of such schools is to retain more school children who otherwise have to drop-out due to migration. The tribals of Jhabua migrate from their villages to Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in search of livelihood every year. Hence such an initiative will help empower them with education which their children well deserve. The concept behind launching these schools is to facilitate education for children of migrant laborers even while they are absent from their native places and again revive education when they come back to their native place. Their attendance and other registers will be deposited with the local school and once they return, they can continue their education.About 85 per cent population of the district is tribal and 47 per cent people live below the poverty line. The literacy rate, according to 2001 census, is 36.87 per cent but the female literacy is just 4 per cent. It has been found that girls tend to drop out from schools due to migration problems and onset of puberty, resulting into engagement and marriage, household chores, looking after children, financial crisis at home. Drop-out rate among boys has been observed due to financial crisis, inability to give good results in the school examinations and the need to be productive and contribute to the family income. Another very common reason, which has been found to be quite persistent, is the idea that education is inessential. Surveys conducted in recent times prove that the education which is imparted in free primary schools is of very low standards and have a faulty methodology. The curriculums also do not equip the children with the various skills that they require to make them employable in the job market. These mobile schools have been equipped with all the basic requirements and will be housed in tents. UNICEF has a robust plan of launching 100 schools by end of 2008. It has a target of enrolling 650 children who migrate with their parents to Gujarat in search of work. Along with tents, UNICEF has also provided school materials, salary of teachers, course material and even trained teachers in partnership with the district administration. Big dreams with a little help can come true. So are the efforts of UNICEF, which will definitely reap a bright future for India. Sridatta Gupta

[image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/meanestindian/2301464930/]