For most slum families, educating their children is the last thing on their minds

Importance of education for slum children in Delhi

Education has been proved to be a key to escaping the cycle of poverty across the world.

High quality pre-school and primary education help build a stronger start in life. Early childhood education lays a foundation for lifelong learning.

Yet children growing up in Delhi slums face a poverty of education that prevents this happening.

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Poverty of Education

Although Indian law now guarantees free education for children from 6-14 years of age, there remain many barriers that prevent slum children accessing good quality education.

State primary schools rely on rote learning, rigid curricula and use of corporal punishment to enforce strict discipline. Slum children have little chance of pre-school provision which would help build school readiness.

Enrolling in school is the first barrier. Many slum children lack birth certificates and proper registration documents that are necessary in order to enrol in state primary schools.

Children are taught in Hindi, with English lessons perhaps once or twice a week
Among slum residents, the most common belief about higher education – or even completing school -is that it’s a waste of time and money
Among slum residents, the most common belief about higher education – or even completing school -is that it’s a waste of time and money

Poor learning outcomes for slum children

As many as 32% of slum children drop out of school early or leave with low levels of literacy and numeracy.

Girls are encouraged by parents to drop out in order to help at home or get married early. They do not see the value of letting girls complete their education This leaves children vulnerable to child labour, abuse and violence. Without skills and self-confidence these children are trapped into lives of low paid manual work. The most common reasons given for dropping out are lack of interest in their studies, cost of education and family pressures. Many parents have little education themselves.

Asha’s Model of intervention for slum children’s education: Opening a window of Hope.

Asha recognises the life-changing role of good education, which creates opportunities for better jobs, leading to more income for improved nutrition, housing, and health care.

Education also unleashes the potential lying within each individual, encouraging children to adopt the Asha values. From primary school, onwards, education can raise self-esteem, build social skills, and produce well-rounded individuals.

Learning taken home can enlighten families about the wider world, as well as preventive health, rights under the law, and the negative effects of school dropout and early marriage, traditional patterns in poor families.

The Asha Education Program has resulted in a significant positive spin-off in terms of a better outcome and impact indicators in healthcare, empowerment, and socioeconomic parameters across Asha’s slums. It has grown in scope over recent years.

The Education program now covers young children, adolescents, and young adults through primary, secondary, and tertiary education including international education, internship, mentorship, and job placement. The main objective of the program is to transform the lives of the individuals through education and address the challenges of access, inclusion, mainstreaming, equity, and resources. Asha’s education programme identifies able children and also gives support to many vulnerable and underprivileged students from the slums. Asha helps them overcome many barriers in order to access the best quality education, develop their potential and break the cycle of poverty to lead a life of dignity and respect. 

It’s easy to understand how a child who has grown up in a slum may not even consider the prospect of university
Education also unleashes the potential lying within each individual, encouraging children to adopt the Asha values.

A Summary of the success of Asha’s Education Program 

100% enrolment in primary education with less than 5% dropout across Asha’s slums.

Complete development of children with life skills, values, and activity-based learning to make them a responsible citizen of the country

Increased access to vocational education and skill development courses to make adolescents and young adults from the Asha slums employable in respectable jobs.

Increased access to the highly competitive University education leading to better career opportunities.

Increased opportunities of International Education in the best Institutions across the world for the bright and meritorious slum students and transforming their lives along with their families.

Changed mindset of the slum community towards education and created positive reinforcements resulting in minimising the anti-education pressure in the community.

Increased leveraging of power of education for economic growth, reducing inequality, better health indicators, ensuring justice and fairness, and reducing violence across the Asha slums.

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Asha’s Mission is to work with the urban poor to bring about long-term and sustainable transformation to their quality of life.

Children in the slums of India