In India, female literacy rates are lower than male literacy rates. Recent national data reveals that the dropout rate for girls at the elementary level are 4.10% which rises to 16.88% at the secondary level, with the figures being substantially higher for girls from vulnerable groups, women’s rights are critical to the nation’s progress. The country’s economic wealth is dependent not just on males but also on women. Despite the government’s effort to strengthen women’s roles in society through education and improving work prospects, it is imperative to address the issue. Therefore, a change in the mindset towards girl child education in India is the need of the hour.
India needs to focus a lot more on education for girl child as education has the power to bring positive change in society and enhance parity among communities. Through quality education, India can eliminate most of its problems including poverty, inequality, crime, food insecurity, child marriage and so on. However, the country continues to grapple with both social and economic consequences of low literacy levels. Children living in rural areas and marginalized communities account for the highest number of dropouts and those who never attended schools. Thus, children deprived of quality education remain trapped in the cycle of poverty and deprivation.
With reference to the above, ChildFund India, a not-for-profit organisation has been working towards enabling children from the most marginalized sections of the society in becoming confident and responsible adults by providing comprehensive support to children through their integrated interventions around education health, nutrition, gender, livelihoods, and child protection. For over 70 years, ChildFund have been committed to addressing critical issues related to children’s holistic development by engaging key stakeholders including families, communities, schools, government, and the children themselves.
The various approaches that ChildFund India uses to support education for children especially girl child are through:
- PENCIL model (Protective, Effective N Context-based Initiation of Learning) is developed to respond to specific issues and needs related to education in India. Through PENCIL, we work towards improving the learning abilities of children between the ages of 3 and 18. We develop their critical thinking abilities and make them sensitive human beings by including age-appropriate learning outcomes and socio-emotional learning (SEL) skills in our approach. In this process, we use different assessment tools and context-based multilingual and scientific teaching-learning methods to gauge the skills of children and create a conducive learning environment. We have been carrying out educational interventions across the board from remote villages to complex urban communities, implementing them directly or by engaging the government and like-minded agencies, community-level networks and groups.
- Socio-emotional learning (SEL) is fundamental to support healthy human development. Our intervention SEL benefits children and young people by equipping them with skills to positively navigate, manage emotional processes and form respectful relationships. To ensure SEL is effective in schools and communities, ChildFund India trains master trainers, project staff, and most importantly, parents, making them understand the socio-emotional needs of children.
So far, we have sensitized and trained 48 master trainers, 87 education facilitators and 1009 parents as peer educators, to raise awareness in the community. Also, we facilitate SEL through different child engagement platforms including Child Parliaments, Child Club, Baal Sabha, and so on, to help children express their views, thoughts, ideas and emotions.
- Pacing with Digitization – Smart Classes: This addresses the need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. In smart classes, digitally interactive learning material for children in grade 6 and above are provided to aid robust critical thinking, problem-solving, and encourage an innovative attitude. Also, ChildFund India has set-up science and math laboratories in various schools to develop practical knowledge and understanding of the subjects for students.
- ChildFund India’s “Back to School” initiative helps 6-14 year olds out-of-school children to get back to education by addressing social, geographical, and learning environment-related barriers that they face in accessing school education.
Therefore, on National Girl Child Day, it is important to bring our focus into the ways stakeholders can come together to educate all genders in the society, including a girl chid. ChildFund India has been contributing to the cause since the last seven decades and their ways can be used as a model and replicated by other organisations. Government, corporations, and other private sector players must come together to support the good causes such as these.