The usual pattern for our Indian colleagues is to see economic empowerment, healthcare and other projects develop from each of our schools. So what happens when a rural development programme is proving successful - it is expanding rapidly - but we have no schools there?
We can look to set up a school. We hope to do that in this instance, but it takes time and it may not always be possible. Our Indian colleagues will only set up a school at the invitation of the local community, and only when we know that we can secure land for school buildings. While it is possible to rent premises when the school is starting and is relatively small, we need to know that we are able to expand as the number of classes grows. It takes time to secure land and to go through all the legal processes required.
While we are waiting to build the school, we can encourage parents to send their children to existing schools in or within reach of the village. This is not always easy, since the quality of schools varies considerably. Enrolment can also be frustrated when entrance requirements are unreasonable. In some areas it can still be difficult for children from Dalit or tribal backgrounds to obtain places, and in some instances even when they can enrol they may experience discrimination. Fortunately, this is less common than it used to be. For children of a Jogini, the requirement to have the name of their father can be a barrier. In many instances neither they nor their mother will know who is their father. This is why our project and field teams have been working with authorities to remove this restrictive requirement.
School bus helps transform lives
This summer, we identified a number of children whose mothers are being helped through our rural development programme and who live within a bus ride of one of our schools in a nearby area. Many of them agreed to enrol in that Good Shepherd School – now all we needed was a school bus! Thanks to generous donors, our colleagues were able to purchase a bus, and it has already started delivering these children to school each day. This is a development that will transform their lives as they develop their skills and knowledge, benefiting from good quality English-medium education in a discrimination-free environment. They will also grow in confidence and self-belief, knowing that they have worth and value. It is this kind of education that gives them the best chance to escape the cycle of poverty and exploitation that will otherwise oppress them.
You can give more children the opportunity to benefit from our schools by sponsoring their education for as little as £15 a month. Click the Sponsor button for more information. Or click the Donate button to give to our Free A Child fund.