Over a period of time, especially through the 1990s, there has been a major improvement in literacy rates in India. Admittedly though, inspite of efforts made by the government and other bodies, the number of children who are not in school continues to remain high.

Current Scenario

In 2001, one quarter of Indian men and one half of Indian women over the age of 15 were illiterate. School education in India is in crisis – this, after over 60 years since the adoption of the Indian Constitution which charged the government to deliver free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14.

Our Observations

The gap arises from many known and seemingly intractable factors and ground realities. At MVF, where we have been fighting to eradicate child labour for over two decades, we have realized that a child missing out on primary education is not a purely economic decision of the parents. Issues of social distance – arising out of caste, class and gender differences topped with child labour, concerns relating to teacher training, quality of curriculum, and shortage of resources in general add to the problem.

Education cannot be universalised if children are forced to be bonded labourers. Additionally, there are a number of factors that will result in a loss of interest in schooling, such as:

● Poor quality of education
● Insufficient school facilities
● Untrained, irregular or unmotivated teachers

Malnutrition and lack of future prospects can also deter a child from seriously pursuing education.

Choosing our Battles

It is clear that the announcement of an act of parliament plus the allocation of funds do not automatically convert into a vibrant and effective educational process.

It is this most challenged and challenging environment that MVF has chosen for its field of operations – The right to education of all children, the right of every child to enjoy their childhood and to be given the opportunity to explore their innate qualities and the chance to grow.