Education - Ensuring inclusion and continued learning to snap the cycle of poverty
Over the centuries, the nomadic communities have primarily survived on their inherent dexterous skills and traditional wisdom. The knowledge and skills for the traditional occupations they practiced weren’t taught in any school but were handed over from generation to generation. As a result, they never ever felt the need to get their future generations into mainstream school system to receive formal education. The children were involved in the family occupation from a young age and the learning happened through hands-on work rather than reading or writing. However, as these professions collapsed the need for formal education became crucial. Lack of formal education meant individuals from this communities found little or no work elsewhere. At the same time, it was difficult to send their children to school because they weren’t part of any revenue village, had no identity proofs, there was no continuity as families wandered all the time and if they did stay put their children were discriminated against in the school.
Education is the most powerful tool to equip these children with the knowledge and competence that enables them to break free from the cycle of poverty and deprivation. Navigating through all the initial challenges, we have now initiated Unnati Girls’ Hostel and Shri Gambhirchand Oomedchand Shah Boys’ Hostel – two hostels facilities for the children of nomadic families. We will soon start a Residential facility at a Nomadic Settlement of Vadi Community at Kakar. This Hostel will house 180 children.
- Our initial strategies included operating bridge schools, tent schools, enrolling the children in various hostels, gurukuls etc. These programs had their shortcomings because of the administrative and community approach. The ideal situation would be children obtaining enrolment and continued education in the village schools, accompanied with aware parents who prioritize education over earnings. It is envisioned that the hostels operated by VSSM will help set an example of what these kids can achieve when provided equal opportunities. It is practically impossible for us to reach to lakhs of children of nomadic communities. Hence, we try ensuring they are included in the mainstream schools, make it compulsory for parents to send their kids to school, sensitize the administration, society and teachers towards the special requirements of such children.
- The Unnati hostel is for the girls and functions from a structure constructed behind the VSSM office at Ahmedabad. Similarly, the Shri Gambhirchand Oomedchand Shah Boys Hostel functions out of a campus in Naroda suburb of Ahmedabad. The children of both these hostels are enrolled in some of the leading private schools of Ahmedabad. With 150 children, both these residential facilities are brimming at its optimum capacity.