This week, all the children in Switzerland are going back to school. Terre des Hommes Switzerland, as every year, will raise students’ awareness about Children’s Rights in schools and encourage this back to school in all its countries of action by guaranteeing children a quality education.
Back to school is also synonymous with the March of Hope and this year India will be the country of honor! We are thinking of all these working children who carry out jobs that are most often dangerous to their health and who are thus deprived of schooling.
On this occasion, we share with you the story of Kalpana*, a 15-year-old Indian tribal girl, belonging to the Malua Kandha tribe, living in the village of Akash Pally in the Odisha region.
The main occupation of this tribal community is concentrated on farming and collecting forest products. Both men and women go to the forests and collect firewood, minor forest products like bamboo, to meet their food needs.
Kalpana is studying in the tenth class at the village school and it was difficult for her to continue her studies because of her precariousness. Besides her father and mother, Kalpana has two sisters, an older brother and a sister-in-law. Her father lives on a daily wage, her brother works as a construction worker and lives in a distant construction site. The family barely manages to survive on the income of the father and older brother.
Although supportive of her education, Kalpana’s family was unable to provide her with school materials or support school fees. The lockdown and closure of schools due to the COVID pandemic had forced her to stop her studies even more.
The Centre for Action Research and Documentation (CARD), partner of Terre des Hommes Switzerland, opened an educational support center in the village of Kunjuri (as a temporary unit during the pandemic when public schools were not operational) in order to provide support to children from 5 nearby villages from sixth to tenth grade (10-15 years old), in which two teachers provided lessons to the students for at least two hours a day.
This is how Kalpana became a regular student at the center with quite satisfactory school results. She appeared in her first public school leaving examination in April 2022, one of the most vital examinations in any Indian student’s life. She feels that without this support she would not have been able to appear in this examination and perhaps might have left her studies.
Kalpana is now convinced that she can fulfill her dream of passing the tenth exam with good marks and eventually completing her studies in order to get a government job and become the first female civil servant in her village.
Education is the solution to guarantee a better future for vulnerable children and it is also thanks to you that we can change the daily lives of children in our countries of action.