Over the last eleven years, Street Survivors India has worked at developing and running educational support systems for out-of-school disadvantaged children. We strongly believe that:
• Working children and their families deserve respect. The right to survive with dignity is as important as skills & information necessary to earn a living wage.
• Long-term strategies must be built in close contact with the circumstances in which families survive.
• Working children have a strongly developed individuality and must be allowed to participate actively in the search for solutions.
• Mere literacy is not enough for children who labour because the alternative is often starvation. The relevance of education in daily life must be demonstrated through support services tailored to meet their educational, nutritional, health and vocational needs.
Flexible solutions: The importance of this approach is underscored by the current crisis of our formal education system. Rising dropout rates constantly remind us that existing schools are beset by poor facilities, irrelevant curricula, inflexible school-going ages, timings,and poorly trained teachers. Moreover education is irrelevant to the daily lives of countless children and does not provide employable skills.
Vicious cycle: For the poor, the opportunity cost of such education is unaffordable if they weigh the income potential of a child against any tangible benefit of being educated. Over the years, this situation has spawned an enormous backlog of illiterate adults who see less value in education per se and depend more on their children’s income.
Micro-planning: We feel that the plea of inadequate resources cannot justify the dubious benefit of spreading existing monies so thinly. There is an urgent need for exercises in micro planning. Build few projects, build them well; and if they work, build more when you have the money. In our own small way, this is precisely what we represent.