India has the second largest education system in the world, after China. Dedicated and sincere efforts have gone into increasing enrolment at the school level to ensure a sustainable future for the country and the youth of tomorrow. Various educational policies from ‘Right to Education’ to ‘Mid-day Meal’ have been implemented to promote the same. In spite of all the efforts, there are many children today who either drop out of their schools or discontinue due to poor performance in board examination.
- Out of 100 students that are enrolled in school in India, an average of 25 students drop out in Secondary and 30 students drop out in Senior level.
- In states of Jharkhand, Arunachal, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Bihar the dropout rate is more than 50% in Senior Secondary.
- The UNESCO-UIS (2015) study reported that more than 40% of all out-of-school adolescents live in South Asia.
- Out of 100 students who appeared for class X in the year 2010, 30 of them could not clear their exams.
Many of these children who discontinue their academic education, especially from lower-income backgrounds, have higher chances of engaging in child labour and being addicted to harmful substances. Education, we say, is the most powerful tool that exists. Currently, these young adults also have an option of joining an Industrial Training Institute to pursue short-term trades that do not require 10th pass degree or go for vocational trades that are suitable for 8th pass students. The challenge in hand is to create a robust, non-traditional alternate education system that can break the vicious cycle of poverty and lead to sustainable inclusive growth.At Anwesha Composite Education, we have been working towards empowering these young adults through our model of 2-year vocational education that leads to the personal, academic and professional development of the students generating entrepreneurial and employability opportunities for them. We have been catering to the 10th appeared students, who discontinue their senior schooling due to various reasons, at our vocational school in Anand, Gujarat. Our learnings from engaging with these children have taught us a few fundamentally essential techniques to create an alternate education system that is effective and sustainable. These include:
Marks do not define an individual
We have learnt that marks cannot define an individual’s competency or skill. Dhaval, Narendra and Chirag who could not clear their 10th examination in the year 2015, are successfully employed today at Rhino Machines, Anand at the age of 18 after clearing a vigorous industrial assessment profiling their practical skills and knowledge.
The pedagogy plays a important role
Rote learning and knowledge transfer does not work for every child, leading to poor performance in schools. The use of hands-on experiential pedagogy whereby learners learn by doing is what makes them engage in their learning. The objective is to reach out to each learner keeping them at the centre, not treat them as mere resources in the industry. The concept of clarity and engagement are what lead the students to demonstrate ownership when they engage in production projects.
Engagement with families is essential
The scenario and environment at home greatly influence how the children perform in other areas of their lives. Many of the families are not able to provide the necessary exposure to the students due to financial constraints. However, regular engagement with the parents and guardians through parent-teacher meetings create awareness in families to facilitate the learning at home.
Foundation has to be built
Various initiatives and skill development courses are three to six months long where the outcome is to skill the individual. However, for quality education and continuous upskilling, a solid foundation in basic skills with specialisation model is essential. When an individual has invested time, dedication and money; there are sustenance and motivation to grow.
Aspiration is necessary
If we want every child to enrol, continue and commit to education – academic or vocational, a rural child or urban; the larger picture must be clear. We perspire for what we aspire and vocational education has to do just that.
Laying out a trade curriculum and certifying skill is not enough, we need to incorporate our learning to create an alternate form of education that is more inclusive and open to those who do not or are not able to continue in the traditional schooling system.
By educating every child to become an active contributor to the growth, we get one step closer to the sustainable development of our country.
Compiled by Guest author: Nihar Agarwal, ACE Foundation, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org