Our work in education builds on the foundations laid in ensuring adequate nutrition and health status throughout the critical period of the child’s growth and development that take place during the first 1,000 days of life. Experience has shown that even children who may have achieved appropriate nutrition and health standards, if not sent to school, may end up in child labour, trafficking, early marriage, or exploited and abused otherwise, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty, ill health, malnutrition and illiteracy that trap deprived communities.CINI supports the Right to Education Act, 2009, with the aim of achieving universal enrollment, increasing school retention and improving the quality of education. In particular, we are concerned with deprived children, those who are denied access to education as a result of traditional or social barriers, such as caste, poverty, gender or ability. Evidence shows that children who are in school, not only are empowered with education, but also tend to be more protected from abuse and exploitation. To strengthen our efforts in the education sector, we have recently established an Education Resource Centre (ERC) with the mandate of distilling innovation, guiding policy development and contributing to the unprecedented education reform underway in the country.
We strive to identify children who are out of school, or at risk of leaving it. We partner with school authorities and teachers, school committees, families, children’s groups and local elected representatives – Rural Panchayat Institutions and Urban Local Bodies – to map out-of-school children, motivate the school system and families to get them back to school, and prevent dropping out. We promote the creation of Child Friendly Schools – where school authorities are willing to participate in this transition – by facilitating better school management for upgrading the school environment, building separate toilets for girls and introducing education methodologies that are child-centered. Through social auditing, adult and child education service users can claim their entitlements and suggest ways to improve the school system. We are working to foster the establishment of Child Friendly Schools to stand as primary institutions for education and child protection at the core of Child Friendly Communities.
To prevent dropping out, we offer supplementary education support through learning centres for children being run on school premises or in the community. Services are in operation prior or after school hours to help students who may be first generation learners, or deprived of a conducive home environment for continuing study. A network of CINI frontline workers and Self-Help Group members partner with government, municipal schools and communities, and engage in a dialogue with families to highlight how the benefits of education would, in the long term, outweigh the loss of foregoing a low and temporary wage which a child may earn by leaving school.
We work to overcome forms of social exclusion based on caste and gender discrimination that continue to play a part in keeping children, particularly girls, out of school. Recently, the government has entrusted CINI with managing two residential schools for severely deprived urban boys and girls in Kolkata, a pilot experience seeking to serve children who may remain unreached by efforts made through community-based interventions.
It costs less than 350 rupees a month to support a child in education through CINI’s “Educate a Child” programme.
In poor urban and rural areas, where childcare may be inadequate, CINI supports families in properly stimulating, educating and caring for better physical and psycho-social development of young children. Members of Self-Help Groups and adolescent girls are equipped with training and Early Childhood Care and Education kits to strengthen families in their capacity to support the children and prepare them to enter primary education.