Opening The Closed Doors of Education
Giving Unschooled Children - The Right To Learn
It is difficult to imagine what life would be like if we did not know how to read or write, or operate a computer. In our daily routines, there is a multitude of tasks for which we rely upon our academic skills. Apart from eating and sleeping, it would be true to say that there is little else that does not connect with our education. Even how we view ourselves and others depends on our education.
In spite of knowing the importance of education, in the cosmopolitan city of Karachi there are thousands of unschooled kids. Primary school education is supposed to be free with everyone enrolled. However, children who have missed out on initial years of education have been confined to a life of illiteracy. While in some areas mobile school units operate for a few hours, or volunteers spare time to give a small percentage of students time to learn, none take the full responsibility of getting these unschooled kids to complete schooling and onto the path of college life.
Our project takes responsibility for children age 13 to 16, boys and girls, who have not learnt to read or write, who have never seen a classroom, or who have dropped out of schooling. It gives them a chance to meet their goals and join the mainstream of professional work. This project will provide a learning environment to these children, so they become school graduates, ready for enrolment in higher education classes.
Doing nothing for these unschooled children would most probably result in illiteracy and no education for the remaining years of their life. A decision taken at such a tender age that impacts on the rest of their life, is heartbreaking. Each child deserves a chance to live a good life. We, as adults, owe them the right to education, the right to reach their full potential and to live a respectworthy life.
Our project brings together students from 40 families and multiple communities. It fast-tracks them through schooling, bringing new life and enjoyment to learning. It enables them to apply for a college education by ensuring that their schooling is completed. It makes students independent learners and thinkers, with a plan for the future to reach their goals using their potential.
Taking a wider perspective, we should see the impact of ignoring unschooled kids and denying them education. As the pace of technological development increases, so it paves the way for a bigger gap between students who are illiterate and those who have completed schooling. The net result is a social imbalance that has consequences. It goes far beyond just impacting on the child. It touches every strata of society. Look around and we see the impact. The declining social values, and an increasing membership in extremist groups is visible. The fear for our individual lives and the fear of safety and security in daily living, are just a few of the social ills that plague our society. Unless we take steps to narrow the gap and educate unschooled children, peace and progress will remain out of sight. These children have immense potential and through this project they not only will change their lives, but also influence the lives of their families and communities.
Usually in classrooms we have children of the same age. Secondary Schools will not accommodate children who have missed primary schooling. Learning would pose problems if such students sat in secondary school classes or if they started studying in lower primary classes. In both cases, they would feel social misfits in classrooms, in the playground and in social activities.
Even though primary school is supposed to be free, the number of unschooled children continues to rise. Children are not going to school for one or more reasons. They have to work to survive, or because they are girls or their parents do not see the value of education or because there are no operational schools nearby.
In areas where schools are available, the public education system has failed to set an example of the value of education. Here, a mindless machinery is at work. Instead of developing in children critical thinking skills, creativity and social skills, it serves to admonish these. Such schooling has done immeasurable harm to the value of education. An absence of teachers in classrooms, authoritarian teaching methods and habitual emphasis on memorisation and the passing of exams, has lowered the outcome of educational years. Many students have therefore dropped out of school at an early age.
The Right to Learn is the right of every child and you will agree learning is not memorisation. It is the responsibility of every adult to provide a societal framework within which this right is secured for every child.
At present how the future of unschooled kids pans out is of no one’s concern. This is not to say their parents do not care. They love them but they either lack awareness or resources or both. Age-old cultural traditions within communities continues unchecked and unquestioned, generation after generation.
Unless we take action, social values of society will decline. A rise of conflicts between ethnicities, sects and families is inevitable.
There is something in common with instances of honour killing, gang violence, theft, early marriage, child abuse and target killing. They are all linked with illiteracy and lack of critical thinking skills in individuals. Membership in extremist groups is also supported in such circumstances.
Quality education helps to bring about the power to correctly judge situations and make decisions. Children, especially teenagers, are change-makers. If educated, they can be the catalyst in bringing about values that support education for all and inspire togetherness in working to improve community life.
Our project is directed towards doing just that. It will raise the child to respect themselves and others by providing a safe environment that grants child rights and that fosters learning, builds character, instils social values and inspires creativity and design.
We are giving an opportunity to gain quality education to those children for whom the doors of education have been shut. We will take 40 students between the age of 13 to 16, who have missed out on schooling and help them become school graduates. These boys and girls will be from underprivileged families who, along with their parents, are committed to gaining a quality education. Children will be provided with subject material, stationery and transport where needed. Clean classroom premises with computer facilities will be available. Trained subject tutors will cover the theory and practical application of specific subjects with due regard to child rights.
Our study, over more than a decade, has involved schools in both the government and private sectors. We have developed a comprehensive teacher training curriculum that directs teachers to educate students in the true sense of the term. The approach is holistic. It goes beyond academic learning towards, social values, life skills and character development. It influences attitudes and brings about in the child a responsibility for themselves and others in society.
Teachers will work with children at individual and group levels to inspire child’s progress, creativity and critical thinking. The education provided will go beyond academic learning. It will include life knowledge, skills and attitudes, that help the child reach their personal goals and become part of a bigger world. Lessons will spark curiosity and make research and innovation part and parcel of student learning. Included in the curriculum are skills relating to self-study, communication, computers, ethics and critical thinking. An essential element of the curriculum is students helping students and the use of the internet for projects assigned by teachers. The participation of all students in sports and extra-curricular activities will be encouraged.
The future looks bleak for these unschooled kids and every day they stand at risk of being exploited and falling prey to those who wish to use them to meet personal ends. Unless we take responsibility for unschooled kids we are likely to lose our kids to groups that seek to use them for their selfish evil ends.
Ignoring unschooled children as if their future does not matter speaks of the ruthlessness and inhumane conduct of those around them. It is time to join hands to take responsibility for these forgotten children. It is time to ensure children are given their rights by working together to ensure their quality education. Providing an education to children is not an option. It is simply the responsibility of every educated adult.
Beyond a momentary glance of passers-by, unschooled kids roaming the streets receive no attention. A place where unless one can benefit from children, unschooled kids are no one's responsibility. What will happen if we do nothing and what will happen if we do something?
The point to remember is that extremist groups are flourishing and children can easily fall prey to such groups. In such groups, critical thinking is shunned and obedience is preached. The greatest problem we solve is to prevent these kids getting exploited and misused to serve some made up religious, political, or wealth or power hungry struggle.
Our project will take these unschooled kids who have given up on the dreams of education and put them on the road to utilising their potential. The doors of education will be opened for these children. By providing schooling with specialised tutoring, we will ensure the right to education owed to these children, is no longer violated.
Our experience of working in different localities has shown that children can be the catalyst in bringing a change of social values that support equality, fairness and human rights. Well-schooled children can be the greatest sources in bringing a changed value set to their communities.
The children trained for our centre will undoubtedly play a part in influencing others to attend school and some may even educate others in their communities. By providing schooling to those who have missed primary schooling, we make it possible for others to see that education is not an impossible dream. Adults, teenagers and children who earlier thought that time for education has passed them by, will become determined to finds ways to get an education.
This project needs your support!
The unschooled children need your help!
We want you to join the team and take responsibility for the education of one or more children by providing funds to help them become literate and able to apply for a college education.
Make the dream of a child come true!
Be loved for life and beyond! Donate Now!