The Panaah Communities

The Problem

Education is considered to be a significant tool for empowerment and the overall well being of any society. Given the role education plays in achieving these ends, it seems more like a weapon than a tool. Certainly, education is a lethal weapon to eradicate poverty and inequality from our world. We have witnessed how education has enabled the human race to reach its optimum potential and live life with discipline and dignity. 

Unfortunately, this weapon has been underutilized and it regressed further due to the pandemic. The global crisis for food, health and occupation resulting from the deadly pandemic has had a proportional effect on education. With the dissemination of education going digital at the onset of the pandemic, our country has witnessed a large rate of dropouts. It was either lack of resources or lack of digital know-how that took many students away from online schooling and thus away from education. The vicious circle of poverty has always strangled its inhabitants. The marginalized of our society have no resources which lead to very limited or no education. The result of this is their continued existence in a state of inequity and unfairness; social inequity as well as learning inequity.  

It is distressing to know, about 17% of students dropped out because they failed their studies. The All India figures from ASER, 2018 show that 50% of Grade five students cannot read a Grade two text, and 70% cannot do simple division. This huge gap in grades is yet another reason for students dropping out of school. 15-23% of children could have SLD in any student population. The dropout rate for students with LD is nearly three times the rate of all students. Non-identification of SLD  and lack of support is said to have been one of the major reasons for the dropout of many children in the total general population.

Parental characteristics have a direct effect on the manner and level of education of the wards. The dropouts among children having illiterate parents were four times higher than that of literate parents. Research demonstrates that students with more involved parents have better educational and behavioural outcomes and that families’ socioeconomic status certainly affects students’ performance more than the resources made available at school. However, often we see parents are unaware of skills and finesse required to best support their children and schools often do not set clear expectations for parental involvement. Many times parents and other caregivers do not have an astute vision for the children. Thus children miss out on the motivation and encouragement that they are often deprived of. Parents and guardians also lack the knowledge of available schemes and subsidies of the government that are specially designed for students. Resultingly they are unable to reap their benefits and ameliorate their socio-economic status. Until there is considerable improvement in the economic status of households and change in the social attitudes of parents and caregivers, achieving the goal of universalization of school education will remain a major challenge for India.