Bridging the Gaps Part 1 by Aashi Gupta

By Volunteer Aashi Gupta, FHI Bangalore

The following article presents a contrast between the lives of three kids (captured in 3 back to back blog articles), belonging to the underprivileged section, living in the same locality and under similar circumstances. The piece further elaborates on the importance of life skill education for kids, and why we need to bridge the gaps between literacy and education.

SCENE 1:

“Poora din nahi hai hamare paas, jaldi paani bharo and niklo yahan se”, shouted someone from the queue at Reshma (16), while she was filling water from the common hand-pump. Reshma immediately wiped her hands with her oversized and tattered dress, picked up her vessels and started to walk towards her home. On her way back, she passed through the posh society next to her slum, and saw some kids, in well-ironed school uniforms, with fancy bags and water bottles, hopping on their shiny school bus. Looking at this, she started reminiscing the days, when she also used to get ready and go to the school every day. Reshma belonged to an under-privileged household. Her father used to work as a daily-wage worker and her mother, as a domestic help. Reshma was the eldest amongst her 3 siblings. When she was 13, her father had met with a serious accident, while working at a construction site where he suffered severe injuries, and hence, could not work anymore. The entire financial load came down on her mother’s shoulders, and her salary was not sufficient to feed a family of 5, while paying the school fees of Reshma and her siblings. Being the eldest, Reshma was forced to drop-out of school and work at a factory, so as to contribute to the finances of her family.

According to a joint study by UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring Report in 2016, it was found that around 47 million adolescents in India have not progressed to upper secondary school, majority of which were girls. As per the data, India has the highest number of out-of-school adolescents in the world. The results for such drastic drop-out rates were found to be many, with poverty topping the charts. Other factors responsible include poor quality of schooling, low socio-economic status, lower parental literacy rates, and low status of female children in Indian households. According to a study published in Economic and Political weekly,the drop-out rate increases by 2.7 times, as a student moves from primary to a higher stage of school. One plausible explanation for this is that by the time, a student reaches the secondary school, s/he is of legal working age, and hence are forced to contribute to the finances of the family, instead of continuing with their education. The same is evident from the figure below, as was published in Flash Statistics of School Education (2016), MHRD.

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