According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development 6.2 million children are out of school in India. There is also a wide gender gap within the ambit of Right to Education (ACT), as the school dropout rate continues to be higher for girls compared to boys. Traditional norms and socio-economic boundaries set for girls put greater responsibilities of household chores or sibling care on them, thereby leading to their higher dropout rate.
Keeping in view of the wellbeing of children, and especially girls or children with disabilities we started Ekam Education Fund in 2019 to help underprivileged children access good quality education in institutions and schools that provide value based education across the country.
Low End Private (LEP) or ‘Budget School’ is the term coined for those projected as responding to the growing demand of poor families for good quality private English medium education. There has been a significant growth of the private sector in elementary education in India in recent times. According to the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS) carried out in 2005, as many as 51 per cent of children in urban areas and 21 per cent in rural areas were enrolled in private unaided schools. Further as per IHDS report 15 per cent of enrolment of children aged 6–14 years in the lowest income quartile, as compared to 52 per cent in the top quintile, in private unaided schools. Also, there is a serious dearth of public schools for secondary level education in highly populated settlements.
These LEP schools charge low tuition fees, and hence meet the demand from poorest of families for private, good quality education. Location of these schools is usually convenient, closer to the marginalized settlements and hence easily accessible to children, especially girls.
These children are often first generation learners. The vast majority of low income parents aspire to send their children to English medium schools so as to secure a middle-class job. This underlines the need to serve the vast children population studying in these schools. Therefore, Ekam Foundation Mumbai targets low end private schools, which cater to children from low end income groups of the society. These schools typically charge fees between Rs 500 a month to Rs. 1500 a month but most parents working as daily wagers cannot even afford that. In the aftermath of COVID19 restrictions they are further marginalized and millions of children, especially girls have been at risk of dropout. Ekam Foundation Mumbai supports education fees of under privileged children studying in standard 6th to 12th under this programme and guides them through the completion of their academics.
After thorough evaluation in 2019-20, we identified 25 (16 girls and 9 boys) adolescent students who have received Ekam Education Fund (Scholarships) for the academic year 2020-2021.