Recognizing the need to protect the future of the children residing on streets, Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) was established in 1988. SBT’s full care residential centres intend to fulfil street children’s longing for safety and security by providing them a caring and nurturing environment with a sense of security. A safe place to sleep, a small cupboard to store personal belongings, a somewhat set pattern to life (e.g. regulated timings for food, study, play, roll call and going to bed etc.). Additionally, the Trust also has a vision of ensuring access of street children to high quality services ranging from health, nutrition, education, vocational training to job placement.
Arushi children home was the first girls’ home established by SBT, given the accentuated vulnerabilities of girls living on girls to sexual abuse, exploitation and physical violence. Located in Gurugram, Haryana, the home provides shelter to around 60 girls at a time. The home has been designed in a very child friendly manner and is equipped with all the facilities and amenities required by growing children, including, class rooms, play area, dormitory, indoor space for games and in-house classes and computers and digital infrastructure.
Rationale and Context
Under the funded project, quality and inclusive education is being provided to girls rescued from the streets and enrolled in SBT’s Arushi residential home. In recognition of the role and value of education in shaping children’s future, for their intellectual development and transform them into productive citizens, comprehensive efforts are made at SBT’s residential homes.
Education of children at SBT is need-based and demand-driven. To fulfil these criteria, the Trust employs various modes to educate children including formal and non-formal best suited to their existent knowledge and skills. Wherever possible, the objective is to bring children into mainstream education. The overriding goal, though, is to help children develop into informed, capable, and responsible citizens. To these ends. SBT variously engages with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), formal schools, non-formal education, and bridge courses.
The key objectives of the funded project are:
To ensure access of children in SBT’s residential centres to quality and inclusive education
To provide these children additional educational support bridging the learning gaps they have while they are out of school
To prepare and ready children for mainstream education through formal and open schools
Progress on Key Activities
The proposed intervention for which funding support is being sought is on-going. Following activities are being undertaken as part of the intervention.
Determining suitable mode of education for children: Upon registration of children at Arushi home,the staff members conducted a thorough analysis of their background, present interests and readiness and educational skills. Keeping these as benchmarks, they charted out an educational plan for each child. Mostly girls with substantial educational gaps, were provided bridge classes for preparing and strengthening their academic base. Bridge courses are specifically provided to those children who have suffered breaks in their formal education. The programme provides intensive coaching to such children, aiming to help them re-join formal schooling in a class appropriate to their age. During these courses weekly tests were conducted for children. Additionally debates were conducted to improve their knowledge. Following this, according to girls’ educational level and age they were 4 enrolled in a suitable mode of education. For instance, those girls who were in a school and dropped out for a short span of time were linked to a formal school. In other cases, those children who have been out of school for quite some time were provided bridge course to make them ready to join a school.
Enrolling children in formal schools: The trust lays ample emphasis on linking children to mainstream education. A total of 39 girls were linked to formal schools. These girls were eligible and ready to go to a school and were prepared for the same by Arushi’s in-house teachers. The girls were given adequate guidance by the staff members and were motivated to join a school at the earliest. Following this, the staff members applied for children’s admission in good schools located in the vicinity of the centre. All formalities and documentation was completed by the staff members and educational material, uniform, school fee etc. is sponsored by the trust. The girls linked to formal schools are regularly attending their classes and are being constantly supported to keep pace with the school curriculum.
Enrolling in open schools: A number of children who remain out of school for a large span of their life on streets and do not feel confident and comfortable enough to joining regular schools are taught at the centre by in-house teachers. They are rigorously motivated by the staff members including counsellors to get registered in NIOS and progressively clear Classes 8, 10 and 12 to secure minimum qualification to pursue higher education or respectable job. Such girls at Arushi went through bridge courses and were enrolled in NIOS after the bridge classes were over. Two girls supported by the project have been enrolled in NIOS. A total of six girls from the residential home are presently studying through open schooling.
Providing non-formal education: Apart from the above mentioned cases, some girls rescued from the streets had considerable learning gaps. To address these gaps, children were schooled at the centre through non-formal education (NFE). These classes focus on interesting and interactive learning through a participatory approach. A wide range of techniques are employed under the program, including painting, games, storytelling, papier mache, songs, quizzes, bachchon ki adalat etc. Other activities undertaken under NFE classes include, drawing classes, art and craft, reciting rhymes and practising numbers and alphabets. A total of 12 girls are attending NFE classes at Arushi.
Extending regular in-house educational support: All girls in formal, open and non-formal schools are being provided regular in-house educational support by Arushi teachers. In case of school-going children, the teachers helped them in understanding school curriculum and complete their homework and assignments on a daily basis. For children in open schools, the teachers shared the onus of helping children complete their academic syllabus and prepare them for exams. The in-house teachers remain instrumental in conducting non-formal education and bridge classes for children.
Mapping progress: The academic progress of the children was mapped through written examination in schools and centre. Children were marked on their performance at the centre. The centre staff regularly maintained all the documents including progress reports, attendance registers. Educational coordinator made monitoring visits to map the progress of the children and the centres educational activities on the whole.
Progress Report of some of the Children Supported
Brief overview of progress achieved by girls supported by the project is indicated below.
Manisha – She is presently studying in Class 12 in St. Crispin Senior Secondary school. She is doing well in her studies and working hard to score good marks in internal and board exams. She is also learning Bollywood dancing through Tansen Sangeet Mahavidyalya.
Lovepreet- She is in Class 10 in St. Crispin Senior Secondary school. She is a fast learner and has been excelling in her studies. She is learning to play Guitar from 4 G global institute.
Sophia- Sophia is presently studying in Class 10 through NIOS. She wants to become a chef and is very keen to join hospitality sector.
Monika- Monika is presently in Class 10 in St. Crispin Senior Secondary school. She wants to pursue a course in veterinary sciences after she completes her education. She will be working for an NGO which working for welfare of animals.
Madhu- Madhu is presently doing bridge course. She aspires to pursue a cooking course and become a chef.
Priyanka- Priyanka is presently studying in Class 10 through NIOS. She is also working under City Walk programme of SBT – a walk conducted by children who once lived on the streets depicting problems and challenges they faced. She intends to join theatre in near future.
Abida- is a 12 year old girl she is suffering attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Despite her psychological condition, she performs daily tasks adequately and at present she is enrolled in the Kitty Garden school in Class 4. In future, there are plans to admit her to Edah Special school.
Pinki-Pinki is regularly attending school and is studying in Class 5 in Kitty Garden school. She is doing well in her studies.
Ritu- She is good in studies. She is in Class 5 in Kitty Garden public school.
Heena- Heena recently cleared her Class 10 exams with 6 CGPA. She has opted for humanities as her majors in Class 11.
Asha- Asha is studying in Class 7 in a Government school. She is a bright child who is serious about her studies and aspires to be a police personnel.
In the next half of the year Arushi team is geared to continually provide quality education to the girls, link more and more girls to mainstream education and prepare adolescent girls for vocational training.