Although education in India is considered to be a right for all, schooling is still out of reach for many children from poor families throughout the country. This is the case for many children living in the slums in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, which is found in the north of India.
Poor families arrive in Varanasi from nearby villages and neighbouring states in search of work in the city. With no education, assets, or savings, they are often forced to settle in areas with poor infrastructure and lack of security, and to work low paying jobs driving cycle rickshaws, washing dishes, cleaning clothes, cooking or cleaning for others, selling vegetables or sweeping the street. With their small incomes, education for their children is out of reach. They are unable to afford the costs of uniforms, books, and supplies that are required for their children to study in free government schools. A large number of the children are also expected to work from a young age to help support the family, picking up trash in front of stores, begging, working at road side stalls selling tea or tobacco, pushing food carts, and working as domestic servants in wealthier homes. In this case, sending the children to school means a loss of income for the family.
Little Stars School, a partner of Save A Family Plan, is working to overcome the obstacles to education in the slums of Varanasi and give the children a chance at a better future. Along with providing tuition, uniforms, and supplies at no cost to the families, they have worked with parents to help them understand the importance of education. The school started by providing classes to a just few students, but now nearly 750 students are enrolled from preschool to grade 10.
Little Stars School aims to provide as much assistance as possible to these underprivileged children to address the variety of challenges they face. Class sizes are kept small to ensure that all the students get the help that they need and a wide range of skills are taught to accommodate their varying abilities and goals. Medical exams and daily nutrition supplements are also provided to keep the children healthy and deal with any problems. Support is provided to those who wish to continue their studies at college or university.
SAFP is happy to support organizations like Little Stars School that work to give disadvantaged children the chance to attend school. Their work is integral to making education for all in India a reality.
Photos and information courtesy of Little Stars School, http://www.littlestarsschool.org.