Over half the world’s people – including more than a billion children – now live in cities and towns. When many of us think of the world’s poorest children, the image that comes readily to mind is that of a child going hungry in a remote rural community.
Living in a city is widely regarded as the best way to find prosperity and escape poverty. In reality access to resources in urban areas has never been equitable; As a result millions of children in cities and towns all over the world are also at risk of being left behind. In fact, hundreds of millions of children today live in urban slums, many without access to basic services. They are vulnerable to dangers ranging from violence and exploitation to the injuries, illnesses and death that result from living in crowded settlements atop hazardous rubbish dumps or alongside railroad tracks. Children from poor urban neighbourhoods are among the least likely to attend school. A survey in Delhi, India, found a primary school attendance rate of 54.5 per cent among children living in slums in 2004–2005, compared with 90 per cent for the city as a whole.
About the Project: “Little Lamps”
Little Lamps is an experimental program undertaken by volunteers of Choti si Khushi, The program aims at nurturing the hopes, dreams, ambitions of kids, and trying to raise the quality of live of children residing in slum areas, by means of education, empowerment, regular counselling and professional trainings. The project focuses on plight of poor and marginalized children in urban settings and provides for access to education for poor and marginalized children, including the provision of quality schooling in informal settlements.
Majority of children in our establishment belong to families where parents especially mothers have never been to schools and their children are first generation learners. Due to the poor economic conditions and nature of job of parents; these children often do not get the required home support which is necessary to successfully assimilate the current process of schooling. Further the primary education in most state run schools is in shambles, we focus on providing after school facilitation classes to boost the foundation.
Through Choti si Khushi, we provide after-school activities and engagements for young minds belonging to urban slums. This is as important as institutional learning, which is currently being offered in government schools and private schools under RTE. We engage with children in development based activities that creatively engaged and keeps them off the street after school hours and offers them curricular and co-curricular support, which is lacking at home.
The program is primarily a community driven initiative by volunteers (primarily house wives, senior citizens), and trainers from nearby region, using the infrastructure which is readily available, without any additional infrastructure overheads. Majority of our young students are enrolled in government run MCD schools, Limited section of teenager have never been to school, All these kids are taught in smaller groups, called ‘Learning Circles’. While the kids learn in their learning circles, The mothers undergo classes in adult literacy in their respective circles.
We try to honour each child's individuality and their socio-economic background and try to track improvements in child well-being over time. The objective of inclusion is to encourage the individual spontaneity, natural self of the child and boost their self-confidence and self-esteem regardless of their social and economic status.
We often also leverage connect with local communities, government agencies like schools, grievance cells, Department of education to provide regular feedback, keep a check on incentives and education quality at schools, partner NGO’s to leverage experience as and when required. The Park which almost wore a deserted look last year, is blossoming with people & kids each evening.