Have you ever thought where you would be if you couldn’t read? You wouldn’t be able to text your friends or order food from a restaurant. What would you do if you couldn’t write? You wouldn’t be able to sign all the important documents you need! Two-thirds of our nation, comprising more than a billion people, still can’t.

Importance of Education

It’s the little things in our lives that add the most value to it. Reading a letter, responding to an invitation and so on would be impossible without the fundamental groundwork of education. Things like writing a message to your mother on her birthday card are what add quality to life. We won’t be able to engage in these activities if we don’t know how to read and write.

Education is one of the highest privileges anyone can receive. It gives us the abilities to communicate, express and understand. It opens up to us a whole new world of concepts, ideas and opinions. Knowledge is indeed the milestone in shaping our lives today. It is the first step to utilise any resource in the world. An artist uses intellectual knowledge to paint wonderful canvases, giving him/her the power to create. An engineer uses technical knowledge to design systems to build machines, giving him/her the power to build. And a doctor applies medical knowledge to treat patients, giving him/her the power to heal.

Knowledge is one resource of ours that nobody can steal. It stays with you for as long as you live, like an inexhaustible source of power within. Wouldn’t you like to help the many who don’t have access to all the wonderful things in life because of a lack of education?

Right To Education

Children between ages 6 and 14 have the right to free and compulsory education. Societal evils such as child labour and discouragement of education for the girl child put forth barriers to achieving a high literacy rate. UNICEF has reported that India has at least 45 lakh girls under the age of 15 years who are married with children. Chandigarh has a sex ratio as low as 818 females for 1000 males.

The girl child has to face even more barriers to get an education. The orthodox mentality of believing girls only belong in the kitchen needs to undergo a change. We do see considerable progress though. The Indian woman has stepped out of the kitchen into the corporate world, armed forces and entrepreneurship. She handles both side by side and maintains an impressive balance.

Child labour is another obstacle to education. It dates back to age-old history. A majority of chimney sweepers during the time of the American Civil War were black children. They were made to work in hazardous conditions of sooty smoke at risky heights.

The most vibrant and widely celebrated festival of India, Diwali, still faces several children employed in firecracker labour every year. They are made to work in the unorganised sector as firecrackers need nimble fingers to be worked upon. The carpet industry also involves child labour in other parts of the world. Save the Children, an international NGO, has reported child labour in the garment industry in Delhi in 2015. It has also saved children in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan from cottonseed production and paddy transplantation.

Initiatives of the Indian Government

The Government of India is making visible progress towards imparting education to children in India. It has launched several programs to this effect such as the Vidyalakshmi scheme, Kanya Vidya Dhan scheme and so on. Here we mention two of the myriad initiatives of the Indian government, covering two important aspects of food and the girl child.

Midday Meal Scheme

Poverty- struck families who cannot afford three meals a day often employ their children to work with them on their farms or in the field. They believe this can help them generate extra income to feed the children. These families do not encourage their children to go to school as they feel they cannot afford education. They are unaware of the central government’s policies working to this effect.

Launched in 1995, the Midday Meal Scheme provides children with free lunches on working days. This scheme encouraged the poor class to send their children to school as at least one meal of the day was taken care of in this way.

Meri Lado Kare Padhai

Battling societal pressures, girls have to struggle more than boys to receive an education. A primitive mindset is still prevalent in some places in North India. Parents do not send girls to schools because they believe they are meant to be housewives someday. They decide to save the money for the daughter’s education for her wedding instead. The ‘Meri Lady Kare Padhai’ initiative of the district administrator of Gurgaon provides free education for girls from classes 9 to 12. It is a right of every Indian girl to receive free education till class 8.

Contribute to the Cause

Instead of working in fields and on firecrackers, if these unfortunate children receive a sound education, they can go on to become successful professionals in their field of work. This can enable them to support their families better as well. You can lend a helping hand this Christmas by donating to Delhi Council for Child Welfare, an NGO working towards enrolling underprivileged children in mainstream schools. You can hearten a child’s Christmas this year with your donation.

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