India is a country of more than one billion people. A large percentage of this population is illiterate. Many poor people in the country make a living by using their labor capital - as agriculture labour or construction labour. The children of these labourers get very little opportunity to become literate. Their parents keep migrating from one place to another in search of their daily wages. Once they grow up, they too become labourers. In this way, the cycle of illiteracy and poverty keeps repeating itself year after year.
REACHA, has worked extensively in the field of formal and non-formal education in India since 1992. We strongly feel that the problems of poverty, illiteracy and population explosion that are adversely affecting development of our country can be mitigated by focusing our efforts at providing meaningful non-formal education to such migratory child populations. This can be achieved by setting up camp schools called ‘VIDYA-SHAKTI at each construction site as per the following broad guideline:
- VIDYA-SHAKTI School to have a crèche to provide support to children of age group 0-6 years.
- VIDYA-SHAKTI School to impart non-formal education/ literacy (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) to children of age group 6-14 years.
- A local registered NGO to closely monitor the functioning of each VIDYA-SHILP.
- The cost of running each VIDYA-SHILP school to be included in the project cost. This cost should include resources made available to the local NGO for monitoring the school functioning.
- Teachers for VIDYA-SHAKTI to be appointed by the local NGO.
- Each child to be given a VIDYA-CARD (V-CARD). The V-CARD should contain the child’s photo, basic bio-data, basic health parameters and the level of literacy acquired till date. This V-CARD will be carried by each child from one site to another so that continuity is maintained and the literacy imparted at each new VIDYA-SHAKTI School acquires a certain level of consistency. If this V-CARD is maintained properly by successive local NGO’s, then each child might be able to complete school education to a reasonably satisfactory level. Here, The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) can play a vital role.
- Quarterly Reports on the running of VIDYA-SHAKTI Students performance/ development to be prepared by the NGO and submitted to the agency funding the project, so that the same is audited by their Chartered Accountant and forms part of the Income Tax documents submitted to the IT department at the end of the financial year.
REACHA feels that if one successful model of a camp VIDYA-SHAKTI School is made functional for a year, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) could be filed in the Supreme Court Of India, so that it may decree for such VEIDYA-SHAKTI Schools to be setup at every construction site in pursuit of every child’s Fundamental Right for Primary Education (Right To Education - RTE)
This might herald a new era in our quest to enable and empower the poorest of the poor in the country through education. REACHA invites conscientious Indian citizens who endorse this concept to come forward and partner us in taking this model forward.