Poverty is a huge deterrent in education. Low income or poor economic status often has an adverse effect on the education of a child, especially those children hailing from urban poor families. Low income has often resulted in children dropping out and discontinuing from formal education system. India has the world’s largest child population as per the 2011 census and cities house 41.2 million children. As per Census 2011, there are 13.7 million slum households across 63 per cent of India’s towns. Of the 377 million urban Indians, 32% are children below 18 years of age.
Among various dilemmas experienced by the slum children attaining elementary education, the most important factors are large family size, unfortunate living conditions, deprived health, adverse house situation, and nearby environment, relocation, language problem, unbalanced occupation and economic condition, poor parental educational background and school setting. A large family size leads to higher dependency ratio. In a family consisting of a father, mother and three or four children of school going age where father is the only earning member, then it becomes difficult for him to send all the children to school. Getting employed in an unorganized sector with reduced and unsound income and where all other family members are economically dependent on him then in such a case, it becomes difficult to meet all the requirements of the family members and household. In such kind of a situation the ability of providing quality education to their children or even assisting them to maintain their studies gets influenced. The higher the number of children within the family, the lower becomes the percentage of children not being admitted or dropped out of school (Nath, Maiti& Halder, n.d.).
‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” or ‘Right to Education Act also known as RTE’, is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009. RTE Act, 2009 is about a child’s right to education. It ensures that all children get free education from class 1 to class 8. However, this Act only applies to children between the ages of 6 to 14 and till class 8. In most cases urban poor children discontinue their studies or drop out of from High School education. The children in such cases attend the formal schooling but drop out before their exams as they are unable to afford to pay the examination or bear other expenses.
To ensure children from low income families have access to education.
Humara Bachpan Fellowship
The Humara Bachpan Fellowship Program is an ongoing program of Humara Bachpan Trust. Humara Bachpan has been providing fellowship to students from urban poor backgrounds who are not able to continue education due to poor economic background of their families. Many children in slums, mostly girl children, drop out from schools due to poverty. Through the Fellowship program, Humara Bachpan, reaches out to the neediest and most vulnerable children who have the interest to continue education but are forced to drop out due to their circumstances. The children are supported to pursue education from the secondary level to the Post graduate level.
Humara Bachpan Fellowship is supported by individuals and entities and has different Fellowship program under its banner namely The Dipika Patnaik Fellowship, Dhiren Patnaik Fellowship and Ashish Kumar Fellowship. The Dipika Patnaik Fellowship has been instituted in 2017 in the memory of Late Ms Dipika Patnaik by her family members who passed away in a fatal road accident while still a student. Under the Dipika Patnaik Fellowship, young girls from urban poor backgrounds are supported to pursue their higher education in professional courses. The Ashish Kumar Fellowship supports young children interested in pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration. The Dhiren Patnaik Fellowship has been instituted in 2017 in the memory of Late Mr Dhiren Patnaik by his family members who passed away in a heart-attack. Mr Dhrien Patnaik was a renowned social worker and the founder of Kamala Nehru Women’s college. The Dhiren Patnaik Fellowship supports young boys from urban poor backgrounds to pursue their higher education in professional courses.
Currently 11 young boys and girls, from urban slums in India, are being supported by the Humara Bachpan Fellowship Program in different fields of education.
Priti is a determined and bright child leader of Humara Bachpan from Sariput Nagar community, Mumbai. She aspires to become an engineer. She is competitive and extremely proactive when it comes to group activities. Although, her family is economically disadvantaged, it hasn’t stopped them from understanding the value of education for their children. As a part of the child club she inspires a lot of other younger members with her dedication and zeal. She has scored 74 percentages in her matriculation. Priti’s father is a small businessman and her mother is working as a lady security guard in a local company. Including her she has two other siblings who stay in Mumbai now. She is the class representative of her batch in college.
Badal is a very talented and dynamic child leader of Humara Bachpan from BDA Nilamadhab Basti, Bhubaneswar. He is associated with HBT since 2013. Badal played a key role during conducting Children led planning in his neighborhood. He lost his father in an accident in 2011. After his father’s death, in order to take care of his family, his mother started working as a helper in the Anganwadi centre in their slum. Her mother being the sole bread winner of the family is struggling hard to provide a living and education to her children. To help his mother in adding to the family income, Badal and his younger brother work in a florist shop in the evening. Despite all the hardships nothing has stopped him from continuing his education. As a bright student of his school, he has scored 72 percent in 10th standard. He aspires to be an engineer. Currently he is pursing Diploma Engineering (1st Year) at Centurion University of Technology and Management (CUTM), Jatani.
Rupak Kumar Gouda
Rupak is one of the most vibrant and outspoken child leaders from the Maa Mangala child club in Science Park Basti Bhubaneswar. Since becoming a part of the club, Rupak has been voicing out various concerns of children on unhealthy and unsafe living conditions in various platforms both nationally and internationally. He belongs to a very poor economic family background where his father has a small tea shop and his mother is working as a domestic help. Despite a lot of financial struggle in family, Rupak has not stopped his education. He aspires to be a business professional and contribute towards betterment of other children in his slum. As a child leader of Humara Bachpan Rupak presented Humara Bachpan’s work in nationally and internally in various conferences, workshops and meetings. He is also the class representative in his department at CUTM.
Shradhanjali, aged 16, is a talented and bright girl who hails from OUAT Farm Gate basti, Bhubaneswar. As an active child leader of Humara Bachpan she took lead in CLP process in her neighborhood. She has a family of six which includes her parents and three siblings. Her father being petty businessman always encourages her study and for co-curricular activities. She has a good academic record scoring 70% in 10th standard. She is a good orator and writer as well. She won medals in her college in debate and essay writing competition. She aspires to become an IAS officer in future. Currently she is continuing her Intermediate of Arts (Second Year) at Rajdhani Junior College, Bhubaneswar.
Usharani, an active and articulate child leader of Humara Bachpan wants to become a journalist in future. She is competitive & extremely proactive when it comes to group activities. Usha is good in studies & she also equally in extra-curricular activities. Her elder brother died from road accident last three years before but her family understood her & give emphasizes to Usha’s education. As a part of the child club she inspires a lot of other young member with her dedication and zeal with other child leaders like Srabani and Sailaza inspire her. She is continuing her second year in Intermediate this year. She was participated in Urban Thinker Campus in Delhi as a speaker in 2016 organized by NIUA where she spoke on “Prosperous Communities: Children and Youth”. Currently she is continuing her Bachelor in Media Studies at Centurion University of Technology and Management (CUTM).
Neha is an extremely talented child. Her ambitions are to become a teacher and help the less fortunate children in their education. The same determination is evident in her day to day activities as well. Other than being a dedicated student, she is also good in extracurricular activities. Although, she is growing up in an environment not too conducive for young children but that hasn’t stopped her from learning. She has played a pivotal role in forming a child club in her community.
Neha and her young group of child leaders have taken proactive measures like installing handmade dustbins in their schools and communities. These child leaders along with Neha have brought about a paradigm shift in the thinking processes of the adults and elders in their community. Her leadership and communication skills have helped her conduct large community meetings with poise and focus. She is continuing her 9th standard at S.K.V School, Narela, Delhi.
Annu is a determined and bright child and aspires to become a teacher in her future. She is competitive and extremely proactive when it comes to group activities. Of the four siblings she is the youngest. Although her family is economically disadvantaged, it hasn’t stopped them from understanding the value of education for their children.
Annu is good in studies and she is equally in extracurricular activities. As a part of the child club she inspires a lot of other younger members with her dedication and zeal. With other child leaders like Neha, Annu has forced her community to believe that despite all adversities children like her are willing to go that extra mile to change their surroundings and take a step towards a better future.
Muskan, aged 16, is a talented and bright girl who hails from Yarab Nagar slum in Bengaluru. She has a family of five which includes her parents and two siblings. Her mother is the sole earning member in the family. Though her parents are not educated yet they want to provide the best possible education to their daughter so that she grows up to become a strong and independent human being. She is a good athlete. She is learning stitching, and exhibits good communication skills. She aspires to become a doctor when she grows up.
From the tender age of 12 Jasmin has been involved with Humara Bachpan Campaign. Jasmin and her other friends from “Maa Mangala Child Club” of Science Park Basti discuss about their various pressing issues they face on a day to day basis in their slum and emerge with solutions which will help to tackle the difficulties. She has been part of the “Meet the Mayor” programme where she has expressed the unhealthy condition of her slum and the right to live in a clean surrounding. Jasmin’s work has been appreciated in her community and she has been successful to bring changes in her slum as well. Her willingness to mark a change in the slum has made her participate at both National and International Conferences and consultations. The young child leader was made to be a panelist for the “Voices of Children” plenary session at the Cities for All XI Metropolis World Congress held in Hyderabad and was also a speaker in “Small Children Big Cities” conference organized by National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) at New Delhi. She also participated in the Children’s day programme at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. Currently she is continuing her Intermediate of Arts at Biju Patnaik College, Bhubaneswar.
Malathi is an active child leader of Humara Bachpan. She stays with her family in Annawadi, Gautamnagar slum, near Chatrapatishivaji international airport, Mumbai. She belongs to a poor family and her father is not much educated. But her parents wanted Malthy to pursue her higher education. She is good in her academics and likes to do projects given to her in school. She is creative and interested in decoration and also good in dancing and her parents encourage her for it. She had participated as speaker at Cities for All XI Metropolis World Congress in the session Voice’s of Children held at Hyderabad and also Children’s Day programme at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. She got an exposure in various national and international conferences from Humara Bachpan. Currently she is continuing her 10th standard
Jharana, is an active child leader of Humara Bachpan from Ganga Nagar B basti, Bhubaneswar. She is associated with HBT since 2015. She is actively involved in Child Led Planning process conducted in her community. Though her parents are not educated enough, but they wanted their daughter to pursue higher education. Despite of financial problem in the family, Jharana always tried to do her best in studies. She has scored 62 percent in her Intermediate of Arts. She has aspiration to become a business professional in future. Currently she is pursuing her Bachelor in Business Administration first year at Centurion University of Technology and Management (CUTM), Jatani.