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Aashayein- A Unique Endeavour to Encourage Child Retention in School

  • November 28th, 2019
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Children play a major role in strengthening the future of a nation. Therefore, in a rapidly growing economy like India, investing in basic requirements for children, like education, is paramount. Education not only broadens the horizon of employment opportunities for children but also gradually helps increase per capita income. However, various factors discourage this growth when students opt out of learning. High dropout rates have been observed by Ministry of Human Resource and Development and National Family Health Survey which is one of the major reasons for retarded growth of literacy rates in India.


Many factors affect the dropout rate, some of which are poor infrastructure (toilets, classrooms) at schools, lack of good faculty, no incentives to teachers, distance from home, poverty, child labour, etc. Government is considering various action plans to reduce dropouts like providing bicycles to cover long distances, allocation of funds to underprivileged students, building clean toilets within the parameter of the schools. However, parental characteristics and social norms, still play a significant role in determining school education. Social attitude like preferring to educate only the male child, or early marriage of girls, or fear of girls or boys getting into bad company, remains a challenge for India.

Dr. Raman Khanna, Founder of Pragati Wheel School, elaborated that most students who come to his school are first-generation learners. In India, the dropouts among the children belonging to illiterate parents are four times higher than that of the literate parents. Dr. Khanna states that when parents do not know the importance of education, their ignorance reflects in their kids who also do not take education seriously. The complacency concerning education will only end when learning percolates down the generation.


While the problems are severe, they are totally beatable. The problem with first-generation learners is that most of them do not know why they are bound to study. They are not aware of the accomplishments that await them or that education can really help them get a bright future.


We, at IBees, tried to encourage the aspirations of children of Pragati Wheel School, through our campaign, Aashayein- Touching the Sky. The idea was to keep children hoping and striving for a better future by making them realize the purpose of learning.


Through fun, games and art drive, children learnt the meaning of education. They also discovered their passion in art. When we asked them to paint their dreams- confused, clueless, but positive, they held the pencil against the blank paper, never to give up. Clarity in terms of goals in life is a driving force for children. IBees believes that children are absolute go-getters if they can imagine their dreams better. We could establish, through this little activity, that no reason for drop out is a reason big enough to stop dreaming.


Through various activities, we reinforced that curating a fun learning space contributes to the retention of students. They keep coming back when they are incentivised with a good time amidst learning. Games as a part of curriculum add to the self-esteem of children, and teach them values like teamwork, solidarity, and leadership better than textbooks.


While it is important to work with and empower girls, it is also critical to engage with boys to create a better, more gender-equal tomorrow. We observed that the boys of Pragati Wheel School peeked through the flower stencils, carefree about the femininity that flowers are frequently associated with. Gender-neutrality is prerequisite to a healthy, more developed nation. IBees believes that we, as a civilisation, have a long way to go. Stronger efforts are needed to enhance the agency of children and keep them coming back to school, and Ashayein - Touching the sky is our first endeavour in that direction.

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