Education is the most fundamental element in the struggle against poverty and child labour.
Even a minimum level of education is the key to a better income and to founding a smaller family in general.
The children of our current project children will be able to go to school instead of having to work.
In the autumn of 2009, the Indian government introduced free and compulsory education. All children from 6 to 14 years now have the right to go to a free public school.
The experienced reality, however, is completely different:
Nobody cares - at least in Kolkata - about the schooling of children in the said age. Parents also need to pay for textbooks, school uniforms or private tutoring which is impossible for the poorest. In addition, teachers do not always take their job seriously enough and often demand money in addition. According to a study by the World Bank in 2004, one in four teachers in Indian public schools never appears in class.
As the situation has not changed so far, there is enough for us to do.
Our children go to public government or private schools, but still come to our project daily for lunch and help with schoolwork (so-called coaching). Here they are taught by our teachers in small groups who can simultaneously concentrate on any problems that might occur.
We would like to offer the children a perspective for the future beyond the slums. In order to achieve this they need vocational training after completion of their schooling.
We basically offer all children of HELGO an vocational training. This offer is not always accepted, some want to start earning immediately after completing their schooling.
For girls, we offer knitting, sewing and embroidery lessons. For the boys trade skills such as welders, electricians, refrigeration technicians or carpenters.
The girls or boys who receive the higher school leaving certificate (comparable to O’ or A’ levels) in the 10th or 12th class can participate in a more sophisticated training scheme such as becoming a computer technician or engineer. These professionals are in high demand in India and can expect a good income.
The training is conducted in close cooperation with a large training centre which the Don Bosco Order has been running for many years in Kolkata / Howrah.
We also offer other training programmes and assistance.
Also we advise the families on the topics of hygiene and nutrition and help them in dealing with money. Children and adolescents who are too old for inclusion in HELGO are offered a basic education in reading, writing and arithmetic.