Friday, January 25, 2019

Education for All - Seems easy but very difficult to achieve

This is an abstract of the 1st article from the series of articles that Rajanitai, Founder and President of Door Step School, will be writing for “Chaturang” a supplement of the Marathi Newspaper “Loksatta”.

About 30 years ago there was a Global Conference on Education, sponsored by UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank to name a few, at Jamtein, Thailand. Representatives from both the developed and undeveloped world, so also renowned educationists, persons involved in education participated.  Extensive discussions and deliberations took place to analyze the state of school going children, the dropouts and those who never went to school. The outcome was, that a target was fixed for the year 2000, wherein all children, the world over, in the age group of 6 to 14 years would get quality primary education. The slogan floated was “Education for All”. 30 years since and we have not  yet achieved our target and the date has been shifted to 2030.

In India things are not very different in spite of efforts like “Each One Teach One” or the Right To Education Act (RTE). The reason being, not understanding the real difficulties encountered in achieving the seemingly simplistic target of “Education for All”, hence not being able to find the right solutions. We know that in Government schools education is free but we do not know whether the freebies reach the students in time. And as the saying goes, that nothing is free in this world and we have to pay for it, it is the children who actually pay, through the wasted years of their lives, waiting for the dole. One fact is amply clear that this war against illiteracy is not very far away but is right at our doorstep.

Through the various experiences gained during the School projects conducted by the School of Social Work, at Nirmala Niketan Mumbai, where I was a Professor, the idea of starting an organization in imparting education to the under privileged was born. A few take homes from these experiences were, firstly it is essential to have an organization dedicated to this work. Secondly, to ensure continuity and consistency and punctuality, a prerequisite for teaching, it is necessary to have paid employees. Thirdly, it gave us an insight into the practicality required to successfully run an organization and lastly, the reasons for the neglect and indifference towards education faced by the deprived children. Hence, I along with a few of my colleagues started “The Society for Door Step Schools”, which is popularly known as “Door Step School”, in Mumbai, 30 years ago.

Our work started with a slum near Cuffe Parade. We insisted that every child above 6 years of age either went to school or attended the classes we conducted. To achieve our aim, we undertook surveys by mapping the layout of their houses, identifying children from every household, monitoring their attendance and altering the timings and places of our class to suit the children. We have maintained this agility and flexibility to change our approach and plans to suit the children, even now. Yet after 30 years of work, we cannot emphatically claim that we have achieved 100% success in any of the slums we have worked in. The learning process continues.

Through the series of these articles, I would be sharing with you the various efforts, the various experiences, its analysis and the reasons for not achieving the 100% literacy target. Also, we would be thinking on ways and means in which we as the educated can do our bit to achieve the target.

Mrs.Rajani Paranjape

For the original article in Marathi, please visit: shikshan-sarvansathi

-Translated by Wasudha Korke

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