Monday, March 31, 2014

From household chores to a classroom in school.

Girls in India, continue to become child labourers and drop outs because people do not address girl children’s issues holistically. Irrespective of the data source, roughly 50% of all working children are girls. School dropout rates amongst adolescent girls remains high at 63%. Moreover, 53% of girls in the age group of 5-9 years are illiterate.  What is needed is a systems approach, which focuses on tackling external and internal barriers to girl child education. This includes bridge courses for children to make up in years of lost schooling, ensuring good quality free government schools, good backup in health services and adequate employment and housing for the adults.

Child Labor is deeply rooted in our society due to social and economic marginalization, poverty, displacement, migration and lack of a coherent policy towards quality education for all. Girls work mainly to help their families because the adults do not have appropriate employment and adequate income. Children also work because there is a demand for cheap labor in the market.
Take the case of Rina, who had to quit school due to her family’s bad economic condition. Rina’s mother, who worked as a PE (peer educator) in an NGO had to discontinue her job for some reason. This forced her to withdraw her children from school. After dropping out of school, Rina began to perform the domestic chores. Her mother started engaging in some work in order to support the family. Furthermore, her family’s HIV status subjected her to stigma and discrimination from her father’s family. Rina confined herself to a small room in her house for most of the time. Due to the unfriendly and indifferent environment, she started becoming very depressed. She kept away from her friends and gradually started becoming abusive and aggressive towards her family.

Intervention from CRY America and our partner, Wide Angle helped Rina get back to school. Frequent visits and counseling sessions were conducted to ensure that Rina actively participated in children’s programs. Staff members of Wide Angle convinced her mother to enroll Rina in a school closer to her house. They met with the headmaster of Buddhimanjuri High school (government school) and explained Rina’s condition. They emphasized on the immediate need to reinstate Rina’s life as a student and empower her by imparting education. The headmaster responded positively to their request and assured them of complete cooperation. Today, Rina has been admitted into the government school in class V. Rina has started going to school again with a hope to attain herself a better and brighter future. Your support ensured that children like Rina get a chance to go to school, no matter what the barriers to education are.

We, at CRY America, firmly believe that when a girl is able to go to school, she sets off a cycle of positive change which gives her the strength and skill to fight numerous obstacles and change the course of her life. Our recent initiative, ‘Stay in School’ campaign is about ensuring 1944 girl children in India do not drop out of school and receive  quality access to a classroom, a teacher, books and much more by removing the roadblocks that hinder their education. All we need is $70,000 to achieve it.

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