Basti Hzt. Nizamuddin is a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. Most children in this neighborhood receive a religious education where they are taught to read the Koran. For many however, this is the only form of education. As a result they have few opportunities of widening their horizons and earning a livelihood. They remain shut off from contemporary society and are unable to compete in the wider world. This is even more applicable to girls who due to early marriages and female seclusion are excluded from mainstream education making it near impossible for them to seek employment and improve their status.
Many parents are not literate and do not value education for their daughters as a girl’s role is confined to the domestic or private sphere. Most of the girls stay at home at the cost of their education so that they can help with domestic chores and babysitting. Even if a girl attends school, there is a strong possibility that she may drop out due to early marriage or a domestic crisis. Even if she is keen to complete her education, her family may not be able to afford the costs of sending her to school.
Government schools that do not charge a fee are plagued by other problems, such as poor quality of education, lack of infrastructure, no toilets or drinking water and teacher bias against poor children, especially those from minority communities.
Responding to the needs of the community, the Hope Project began the Education Center in 1986. Until then there were few learning opportunities for the children living in the basti other than the madrasa and primary education facilities offered by the MCD school. Today the Education Center remains the only school in the basti to impart a secular education to children who would otherwise have remained not literate and unable to cope in a rapidly changing, modern world.
Objective: The Education Center ensures that all children in the basti have access to quality education. It refers out of school children to regular schools or the Hope Project school, if they cannot be mainstreamed.
Target Groups and Selection Criteria : The school draws boys and girls of all age groups from both the basti as well as from the surrounding squatter settlements. It recognizes that although girls may come from economically better-off families, they could still be vulnerable due to gender-based discrimination. Other criteria used for selection are children that come from disturbed families where the parent is a drug addict, alcoholic or a single parent. Family size, economic status and occupation of the parents are also considered.
Many of our students are first generation learners and come from families where both parents are not literate. We believe that a first generation of educated adolescents who realize the benefits of an education will ensure that future generations are educated as well. In addition, it is our endeavor to involve parents of students to take responsibility for their children’s future and for the development of their own community.