India is the world’s largest democracy. Home to 1.2 billion people and a driving force in the global economy but despite the recent growth, millions of children are left behind.
More children in India are in school than ever before, but despite positive improvements in enrolment, India still lacks the basic resources to educate many of its children and many children leave school without basic reading skills. Although schooling is free and compulsory from ages 6-14, approximately 40% of students are dropping out before secondary school.
A recent study by Pratham (one of Suas local partners) revealed that learning levels are actually declining in schools and about 25% of students in class 4 cannot read a simple class 2 text.
If drastic measures are not taken to reverse this trend, it’s estimated that by the year 2020, over half of the world’s illiterate population will live in India.
Suas builds long-term partnerships with local organisations, supporting their work to improve the quality of education for thousands of children. We build on local knowledge and design innovative solutions to overcome educational disadvantage. We work together to create quality, inclusive and learner-friendly environments to ensure that India’s Right to Education Act is implemented.
Currently, our programmes serve 14 communities in West Bengal serving a total population of approximately 10,000. West Bengal has been devoid of much of the mainstream development that has occurred in other states across India. People are forced to migrate from rural areas such as the Sundarbans, towards Kolkata city in search of work
Our community education centres directly support 2500 children.
Improving Literacy Outcomes: We ensure that children are given appropriate support to be able to read letters, words and sentences and develop a love of reading. We also work with mothers to develop basic literacy skills so they can support their children and encourage a habit of reading outside school.
Teacher Training: We train teachers to keep children engaged and develop new and innovative ways to deliver the curriculum. We focus on supporting teachers to develop teaching learning materials using locally available resources.
Community Engagement: We understand the need to work with local communities to ensure that sustainability and continuously build support for education. We facilitate parents and mothers groups, engage with existing Centre Development Committees and with local government to ensure appropriate implementation of the Right to Education Act.
We also partner with other local and international NGOs working on Livelihoods programmes to reduce poverty and ensure parents have the financial means to support their children’s education.
Our Overseas Volunteer Programme provides vital support to these schools and communities during the summer months. Volunteers work with local teachers for an average of 40 hours per week: assisting with curricular development and activities, providing one-to-one support to children, producing Teaching Learning Materials (TLMs) and supplying IT support. Volunteers are also involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, including: summer camps, arts and crafts, football, rugby, hurling and drama.
Building on Success
Suas has achieved real success in access and enrolment over the past 10 years. We have mainstreamed over 5000 children who would otherwise not have been in school and have built strong community support for education. The majority of parents in our communities are now actively involved in their children’s education.
Our focus is now developing innovative solutions to improve learning outcomes for children so they complete school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed.