Helping children from vulnerable background to be part of formal education system
Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) focuses on education; it aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
In fact, few organizations have been working towards this for close to three decades. One such organisation is Manav Sadhna (MS), based in a peaceful corner of the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram. MS has been working to strengthen underprivileged communities in Ahmedabad through programs in Holistic Education, Nutrition, Health and Hygiene, Youth and Women’s Empowerment, Senior Care, Livelihoods, and more.
While there is phenomenal miscellany amongst these programs, they are all founded on a few basic principles- people’s participation and progress according to the needs of the community. Over time, the organization has seen holistic growth in terms of the transformation of the communities with significant improvements in sanitation, education, and health.
Earn N Learn is one of Manav Sadhna’s longest-running programs and engages deeply with each participating child. The program serves vulnerable children by supporting their education (learning) while providing the platform of arts and crafts to help them earn for a few hours a day in a healthy and loving environment (earning).
This helps supplement the earning of the child’s family and prevents the parents from sending their children to work, which would require them to drop out of school. Children from low-income and vulnerable communities have an opportunity to supplement their family income by making handmade paper products. This platform enables children to strengthen their education, cultivate life skills, grow holistically, and intentionally work towards a brighter future in a safe and nurturing environment.
Earn N Learn children receive a nutritious snack, tutorial classes, and loving mentorship on a daily basis while taking part in festivals, sports, field trips, and other fun activities. In the mornings they attend school. In the afternoons, from 1:30 to 6:00, they make beautiful handmade paper products (cards, invitations, bookmarks, diaries) for which they receive incentives. They attend daily tuition classes, participate in extracurricular activities, and are also given nutritious snacks.
Project mentors infuse values and life skills through every aspect of the program. Thousands of children, including several of Manav Sadhna’s project coordinators, have learned and grown holistically through this program. Over 44 children benefit from this program.
When a child joins Earn N Learn, the ﬁrst priority is their education. The organization ensures that all children in the program are enrolled in formal schools. For some, the organization helps them with basic education before admitting them to school. Regular tuitions and tests are conducted to track all the children’s progress. The program has students in both Gujarati and Hindi medium schools. The Earn N Learners participate in weekly dance and music classes as well as regular sports, games, and yoga. Moreover, the organization facilitates annual ﬁeld trips and workshops with volunteers. This program has also sponsored the education costs of our students through Manav Sadhna’s adopt-an education program. Through the art and dance classes, the students also toured across the USA and UK which gave them immense exposure. This way the program ensures holistic development of the children enrolled in the program and at the same time ensures that the family also receives financial support to prevent dropouts.
Yogesh, who is a coordinator at Manav Sadhna says that “Living and working with Manav Sadhna has been a profound experience that has provoked positive changes in our kid's life and in my life which I am witnessing daily. We are keen to support kids in every possible way where they can grow and brings out internal and external transformation and become socially responsible and compassionate human beings".