Pathshala – The Unstoppable Spirit

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela

Education is the backbone of any country. When a child is able to go to school today, he or she sets off a cycle of positive changes. An educated child stays away from an early marriage and is empowered to stand up against exploitation. As children grow, they are able to make better choices for themselves and influence the communities they live in. This transforms their present life and ensures a secure future for them and finally the country prosper.

But even today, one of the major problems is widespread illiteracy. The literacy rate in India stands at 74.04% (Census, 2011). In addition to this, the National Dropout Rate at the Elementary Level is over 40% (DISE, 2011-12). Despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act coming into force in 2010, access to education for every child remains a huge concern in the country. The following are statistics that portray the seriousness of the situation:

  • 1 in 4 children of school-going age is out of school in our country (Census 2011)
  • There are 10.13 million child laborers between 5-14 years in India (Census 2011)
  • 1 in every 3 child brides in the world is a girl in India (UNICEF)
    The condition of the children in Sundarban delta with 102 islands, is more alarming compare to rest part of India due to its geographical challenges, communication hazards and economical backwardness.
    In Sundarban, the situation has worsened now, COVID pandemic has destroyed few lakhs livelihood of the islanders and devastating cyclone Amphan (20th May 20202) has already uprooted many families. With all such difficulties, education might seem like a luxury to those children.
    Just think once, can a child blossom on an empty stomach?
    This is the fact that more than half of the children are malnourished in Sundarban, thus more prone to diseases and resulting poor academic performance. Last one year the schools are shut-down, and we don’t know when it will start again. Access to education has always been a challenge for rural children, but after COVID19, it became a far-fetched dream. UNESCO estimates the prolonged break from school could double the number of out-of-school children to 24 million in India. The private schools are adopting virtual learning. The glaring Digital-Divide in India has come into play. So digital inclusion is the need of the hour if we want to protect a generation.
    Thus to bring the ray of hope to these deprived children we have initiated our optimistic project PATHSALA (a group of Small Schools). We are setting up small learning centers in each village of our adopted area, where the most deprived children from Government schools are coming five days in a week in batches of 25 to access quality education and nutritional support.
    A significant challenge for education in our country is that children are simply not learning enough, even when they were in school. For example, an estimated 250 million children are not learning basic reading and math skills, although half of them have spent at least four years in school. This is costing developing countries billions of dollars a year in wasted education funding. So here are five ways to improve education which we strictly follow:
    1. Providing Free Education to the children
    2. Nutritional Support Programs
    3. Involving Parents / community: It is helping in monitoring and smooth functioning of each pathshala
    4. Improved Resources for Educators: Here the educators are digitally equipped and they are getting online as well as offline training by our experts.
    5.  Survey-Monitoring- Evaluation

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Aranyaj-“Aranyaj Society For Educational And Environmental Development is a non-profit, Voluntary, Tax Exempted, 80G & FCRA registered organization

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