Fostering A Secure Future For Children In Need Through Education And Skill Development
It is essential that children receive a holistic education, house-parents (caregivers) actively attend PTAs and meetings for regular discussions with the teachers.
For most of us, it is hard to imagine our lives without family. We have grown up surrounded by love, care and support, and continue to receive this through the course of our lives. The sad reality is that there are millions of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world who grow up without the love and care of a family. Several of them are left to fend for themselves or admitted to childcare institutions (CCIs) for a chance at a better life. According to UNICEF, though the actual figures are much higher, it is reported that around 8 million children are living in institutions around the world.
As per this same report by UNICEF, 80% these children have at least one living parent or a relative and have been separated from them because of lack of financial means to support them. Poverty (including lack of resources, access to education, healthcare, and security) is the major reason that parents are forced to place their children in CCIs.
Several efforts and initiatives are actively aiming to reunite children without parental care and abandoned children with their parent/s and/or relatives. However, while they await this transition, it is essential to ensure that the children continue to thrive wherever they are. It is important that the rights of the children are realized whether in a family or at a CCI, and a foundation for an enriching life is built in these crucial years. The right to quality education plays a key role in ensuring that these children grow up to become successful, income-producing adults. A carefully structured education plan, training for the right skills, and providing them with opportunities to thrive goes a long way in helping them realize their full potential.
Support for school-going children:
School going children need the guidance of an adult at all times. It is essential that children receive a holistic education, house-parents (caregivers) actively attend PTAs and meetings for regular discussions with the teachers. This helps them monitor the child’s progress as well as support them where necessary.
Moreover, while there are counsellors in schools, a majority of them do not have the bandwidth to be actively involved with every child. This is where the house-parents step in along with social workers, and help counsel and guide the children. All children are encouraged to pursue higher education or vocational training to specialize in a field. Aptitude tests and career counselling are administered to children in classes 9 and above. It helps them make an informed decision about their higher education.
Support to children outside of school hours:
Most marginalized children in our country either attend the government or the community schools. The quality of education imparted is questionable and hence not adequate to build a strong foundation for the children. After school hours, children should be empowered with additional coaching support to help them revise lessons and complete homework under guidance. Coaching teachers on various subjects in the school curriculum work with children at a group as well as an individual level. Regular tests are conducted to determine the progress and development of each child. This has helped children to perform better in classes, actively participate in classroom discussions and ultimately fare better during exams.
Additionally, a social worker monitors the coaching classes and creates a comprehensive progress report for every child in conjunction with the observations by house-parents. Houseparents are trained to conduct discussions with the children at the CCIs about academic progress, goals for their future careers, and areas that they would like to improve upon. This is an active way to identify those who are excelling as well as those who may be struggling with their studies and require additional individual attention.
Support for higher education:
The children who do well in academics are supported in higher education through scholarships. Houseparents and social workers work with the children in applying for college-level education and mentor them on how to achieve their future career goals. Once the children are enrolled in college, they have regular follow-ups and reviews with the colleges to keep a track of their progress. This also reassures the children that they have support from their houseparents and social worker and that someone is watching over them through the various hurdles they may face during this new phase of their lives.
Older children are also given the opportunity to participate in workshops and attend leadership programs/forums where they can truly become voices for change.
Life Skills Education for children of all ages:
Apart from academic development, there is a key emphasis on equipping children with life skills education. This enables them to develop competencies in soft skills required to navigate through the professional world and get integrated into mainstream society as they transition into independent living.
Empowering orphaned and abandoned children by way of academic education and life skills education helps them build a strong foundation for the kind of life they can live, despite the circumstances they may have arisen from. It is important to keep them driven and motivated to complete their education, but focusing on softer areas helps bring about positive changes in their mentality and, as a result, behaviour. With exposure to various opportunities, the children will be able to develop greater confidence and self-esteem to lead a self-sustaining life in the future.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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