YOUNG WORLD

Individual initiatives

An increasing number of people are taking education to street children.

M. RAGHURAM

Literacy is the foundation.

Literacy is the foundation.  

MANGALORE

There is a saying, "Educate a girl and you have educated the whole family". Who would not like to see little girls romping to school everyday?

Thanks to great social visionaries like Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, today there is a widespread awareness about girls' education in society. Especially in districts like Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, which boast of 100 per cent literacy. But not every girl child is so lucky. A UNICEF study of the Indian girl student states that 60.8 per cent of girls children aged seven years and above are illiterate and 16.8 per cent of women were against education for girls in both urban and rural India.

Little Savitha, hardly 6-years-old and daughter of Thayavva of Bijapur who has migrated to Mangalore in search of job, sits near her hut watching the neighbourhood children of her age going to school. Later she accompanies her mother to the construction site and plays there in the sand the whole day and returns to her hut only late in the evening. She and her brother Manja then fetch water for the cleaning and cooking.

But one day, as if by providence, Sanjana the little neighbourhood girl hands over an old slate and some chalk pieces to Savitha and they together draw some lines and Sanjana teaches her to write the first few letters of Kannada Aksharamala. Watching this, Sanjana's mother asks Savitha to return the next evening with the letters written on the slate. Savitha does that promptly.

Some days later when the schools re-open, Thayavva is pleasantly surprised to see Sanjana's mother at her door with a pair of uniforms and footwear for Savitha, a tiffin box, a bag with a new slate and a tin of face powder, hair oil, comb and a packet of bindi. She even tells Thayavva that Savitha's seat in the government school has been arranged. She also tells her that Savitha will also get a free meal and a glass of milk every afternoon at the school.

Such incidents are many in Mangalore where many street children have joined school. But what is needed is encouragement for the children belonging to the poorer segments. A small group of people in Mangalore is taking interest in taking street children to school and arranging for their expenses.

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