Bringing the children back to school #SupportMySchool

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
It is 2015 and we as a nation are on the cusp of far greater things than we have ever witnessed before. In every field, the world eagerly turns to us today, weighing and valuing our opinion.

We matter to the world.
So how is it that we are still not able to matter to ourselves? How is it that in 2015, we are still struggling to not just provide basic education for every child in India but also convince families of the benefits of going to school?

The National Survey on Estimation of Out of School Children in 2014 released their findings and it was telling of the battles we still face today.
They estimated that over 60.6 lakh children did not attend school with nearly 23 lakh dropping out after enrolling. Unsurprisingly, rural India formed the majority of these children. Gender bias, poverty, not considering education important, need of an extra helping hand at home; all these were added weights that tilted the balance against them attending schools.

One key factor that needs to be addressed urgently is the quality of schools available to these children, both in urban and rural India. Lack of adequate facilities, poor hygiene, inadequate safety measures and deplorable sanitation do nothing to convince these families to send their children to these schools. ASER had estimated in its report that more than 50 % of the schools in rural and semi-urban India had either non-functional or no toilets at all.

Support My School was launched in 2011 by NDTV and Coca-Cola India along with UN-Habitat Charities Aid Foundation which aims to make schools a better and more conducive place for children to study in by focusing on the overall improvement of infrastructure, sanitation, rainwater harvesting and providing access to clean drinking water.

The overall goal is to revitalize existing schools with cleanliness and hygiene being key goals to attain to inspire not just the children but the community as well.

Support My School aims to achieve this goal not just for a district or a state but for 1000 schools across India under the ambitious Mission 1000 project, thus taking forward the Swachh Bharat vision that the country is committed to. In addition to providing functional toilets, Support My School has also ensured that the children get clean drinking water besides providing playgrounds and sports facilities where it was lacking.  

By creating awareness through their campaigns, Support My School looks to get both the public and private sector to step in and help reinstall basic facilities in these government run schools and help make a difference. Various role models including business leaders and celebrities too participated actively by visiting these schools and inspiring the young boys and girls with their anecdotes. 

And did they? The statistics speak for themselves. In just one single year, enrollment in these schools increased by over 100% from 6.95% to 14.77%. Till date, 600 schools have already been revitalized with close to 2 lakh children now receiving the appropriate hygienic environment that they deserve.  It just shows that given the right infrastructure and facilities, we can get these children into school and focusing on their studies in their most important formative years.

The future of the country belongs to the children of today. And the best way we can empower them is by ensuring their main worry remains algebraic equations and chemical formulae instead of access to clean water and sanitation.

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Let me know what you think.

  1. It's a shame that so many children are deprived access to education, a tool of social empowerment and mobility. A noble initiative, Doc:)

    1. It really is a shame... this should not be happening in 2015. We need people to take up these initiatives...

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