Academy for Working Children
In spite of the fact that India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and in spite of the Right to Education Act, which makes education not only possible but also compulsory for all children from the age of 5 to 14 years, India is the country with the largest number of out of school children in the world.
According to statistics, at least 35 million children in the age group 5 to 14 years are not attending school. Many of them are growing up in urban slums. UN HABITAT states that India has 170 million slum dwellers. Many live under a sheet of plastic or create a shelter for themselves with whatever material they manage to find.
The children from these families often do not attend any schooling, as the family expects that the situation will get better soon and they can move back to where they came from. Most families do not have the requisite official documents for enrolling the children in school. The parents themselves have no or very poor education and therefore do not pay much attention to their children’s need for education.
HPPI addresses the needs of such children through the Academies for Working Children. The aim is to give the children knowledge and make them regular school goers. At the end of the 2-3 years program, they can either continue in HPPI’s 4-8th grade program or they can enroll in the local school and continue their education.
One Academy for Working Children has a main center with regular classrooms and 4 satellite centers in or very near to the slum where the children live. It is our experience that the learning center has to be very close to the children’s home. Once the children develop a habit of going to school every day, they can also attend the 4-8th grade education in the main center, which may be one or two km away from their home. One of the reasons for our success with this program is the commitment of the staff who daily visit the families, meet the parents and solve their problems such as health issues, arranging proper documents for enrolling the child in the government schools etc.
The staff actively work to make the AWC a success for the children by mobilizing the children, their parents, the local school teachers and the authorities to join hands to create a better future for the children. The teachers at AWC educate the children, organize cleaning actions in the slums, organize events in the neighborhood and pay attention to every single child.