The mandate to educate children up-to primary level is intensifying. Similar need is re-iterated by the collective efforts of people around the world through Sustainable Development Goals and in India through the Right to Education Act 2010. In India, an estimated 8.1 million children between 6-13 years are out of school while millions more do not attend school regularly. The Academy for Working Children (AWC), aims to contribute to the efforts of providing basic education to street and working children, who have either dropped out or never been to school, and subsequently enrol them in formal schools. These children primarily belong to migrant families who come in search of jobs and sustainable livelihood. The AWCs work with these children on their sanitation, hygiene, behavioural & personality development and primary education.
The Academies serve the children of rural areas and slums in six locations of Rajasthan and NCR including Ghaziabad, and Gurgaon. The three Academies in Rajasthan are set at Neemrana, and Jagatpura and Malviya Nagar in Jaipur with the latter two been approved as Non-Governmental Educational Institutes, which allows them to award formal qualification certificates to children, for the classes attended and passed.
The Academies provide activity based, programme oriented learning to Out of School Children, which grants them the freedom to master the content at their own pace. The activities are carefully designed to facilitate the working of children in groups, to learn the concepts, theoretically and practically. The Academies have adopted the government school curriculum, to make transition to mainstream education easier. To facilitate all- round growth of children, comprehensive personality development, art encouragement and sport promoting activities are also incorporated with the study sessions.
AWC’s have also taken an important step towards filling the technology lacuna by conducting regular computer classes for the women and youth from the community. Five out of six AWCs conduct the Computer training courses, out of which, the three Academies in Rajasthan are authorized to provide Rajasthan State certification in Computer courses, in a public private partnership with Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation Ltd. The Academies run evening extra classes for the children who require additional academic assistance. They also mobilize the community with activities like health camps, open Sundays, sports and cultural arrangements for better integration with this educational goal. Since its inception, AWC’s have benefitted 13,000 drop-outs and out of school children and currently reach out to 1260 children annually.
The Step-up Centres are conceptualized to ensure that not just educational prowess but holistic development of an underprivileged child is pursued which helps them gain sufficient traction to merge with the formal government education system.
Step-up is a yearlong programme. It is designed by blending the formal learning and skill based experiences, engaging children for six days in a week. Aligned with the norms of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Step-up is a Multi Grade Multi Level framework, which aims to provide outcome based learning to Out of School children.
With education at the fulcrum, buttressed by cooperation between, child, HPPI, community and government, the approach focuses on establishing child-centric learning centres that benefit larger number of out of school children, bereft of basic education.
The development of the Programme started in 2012, and currently 396 Step–up centres reach out to 11,307 children across 11 districts of Haryana.
AWC proved to be an important precursor to initiate the concept of Step-up Centres. Humana People to People India aims to establish 1200 Step Up centres reaching out to 300,000 children over the next 10 years to assist National and State Governments in meeting the goals of Right to Education and the UN Millennium Development Goals for Education.