Providing Education for Indian Slum Children

El Shaddai Child Rescue USA

Providing Education for Indian Slum Children

Through its residential and community outreach programs ESCT (and EISCRUSA) has provided substantial levels of protection to more than 4,000 children against poverty, illness and violence that so often characterize life in an Indian slum. While these efforts better insure the physical and emotional wellbeing of children in our care, only education can overcome the ignorance that ensnares impoverished families in generational cycles of slum life; only education can serve as a viable passage out of the slums.

With these thoughts in mind an approach to education has been developed that is more flexible than the rigid state run formal school system and which is better suited for dealing with the needs and limitations of the slum children and families. This approach places a heavy emphasis on early learning, preferably in settings with supportive family relationships. The approach emphasizes literacy (in English and Hindi), numeracy, and essential life skills, starting at the pre-school level and continuing through first several years of schooling, and it promotes lifelong learning habits.

Implementation of the ESCT educational program is carried out in two venues: Pre-school and after-school tuition and enrichment programs as well as adult education classes are offered in slum schools run by ESCT Community Outreach Centers to families residing in slums. The second venue, Shanti Niketan School (SNS) was founded in 2001 to serve the needs of children living in the residential homes maintained by ESCT. Designated as a non-formal school, the curriculum at SNS is designed to prepare under privileged children for eventual participation in the formal educational system and to provide non-formal education to children who cannot avail themselves of the formal system.

SNS is essentially a primary/elementary school that encourages all of its children to eventually enroll in upper levels of the formal system. In addition, through remedial classes and special tutoring designed to prepare them for entry into the working world ESCT offers hope to older students who simply cannot meet formal school enrollment standards. Whenever possible, ESCT provides support to children who want to pursue further education at a university or professional school or to participate in a vocational training program after successfully participating in an ESCT sponsored educational program.

In order to implement its educational agenda, ESCT has found it necessary to overcome several significant stumbling blocks including:

• Illiterate children and families who do not speak Hindi, English, or Konkani, the languages of instruction in Goa
• Families that are ineligible for state sponsored normal education programs because the children lack proper legal documentation, e.g. birth and/or residential certificates
• Absence of family traditions that value learning— "a child that is learning is not earning"
• Social and cultural attitudes in which girls are viewed as chattels, should remain under male dominance, and are discouraged from educational pursuits and independent thinking
• Lack of resources for school fees, supplies, uniforms
• Seasonal migratory patterns of families that disrupt school attendance and classroom participation

In spite of these obstructions, ESCT educational programs have achieved considerable measurable success: documentation essential to take part in state sponsored formal educational programs (as well as health care) has been obtained for the majority of the children served by ESCT; viable alternative schemes have been developed to provide meaningful non-formal instruction to a broad range of undocumented/educationally unqualified slum dwellers. 200 hundred students are currently on the rolls at Shanti Niketan School; since its founding in 2001 the school has served more than 800 children.

Of these: 85 have matriculated and satisfactorily performed on state-based examinations; 55 have been mainstreamed into state/private formal schools of secondary education; 25 former students are enrolled in or have completed higher studies, vocational training or professional courses; 40 children who have passed through ESCT sponsored programs are gainfully employed and no longer reside in slum or destitute environments; and 10 ESCT/SNS children, now young adults, hold positions of responsibility in ESCT operations.

Slum school programs offered by ESCT community centers now provide pre-school classes to more than 370 children; several hundred children take part in afterschool tuition and enrichment programs; and adult literacy and vocational training classes (which emphasize female participation) has expanded to the point where enrollment exceeds classroom capacity.

Your contributions
Education, whether it is carried out in simple slum schools or properly outfitted dedicated classrooms is a costly endeavor. Government support for educational endeavors carried out by non-governmental agencies is limited and unreliable. Accordingly, ESCT heavily depends on donor provided support, we need help providing education for Indian slum children. Your contributions help underwrite the costs for:

• Instructional supplies (paper, pens and pencils, crayons, etc.)
• School uniforms, including shoes
• Book bags
• Athletic equipment, especially for girls
• Craft supplies
• Reference books, maps
• Educational DVD's
• IT equipment (PC's, printers/scanners/copiers, ink, projectors)
• Scholarships and apprenticeships
• Classroom furnishings
• Infrastructure construction and maintenance
• Field trips
• Continuing education classes for Shanti Niketan School teachers and slum school staff

Why Help Us?

El Shaddai Indian Street Child Rescue USA (EISCR USA) is a registered charity created to raise funds and provides support for efforts by Indian NGO's (non government organisations) directed at providing education for Indian slum children.