October 23, 2018

Step-Up centres help marginalised Indian children into school

Thousands of children are supported through the Step-Up programme by Planet Aid

Photo credit: Planet Aid

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

Over 40,000 children have benefited from the programme that builds on existing skills to allow them to eventually move into the education system.

Vandana is working her way towards a bright future - one step at a time.

The nine-year-old is one of thousands of children in India who are benefitting from a programme that helps children living on the margins.

She attends one of the Kadam Step-Up Centres that operate in six states. They help children who have been shut out of public schools because they lack the documents to register or have faced other challenges in entering or staying in education.

Using an innovative step system, students build on their existing skills before being helped to enter the mainstream school system and stay there.

"I really enjoy studying and I learn a lot at the centre. The teachers here are very considerate," said Vandana, who attends the Kadam Step-up Centre in Haryana state.

Humana People to People India operates schools in northern India

Photo credit: Humana People to People India

"Addition and subtraction are taught in very interesting ways. I could not read English but I can now."

The Step-up Centre features regular sports days and theme days.

"During these days we participate in various activities like drawing, painting and craft works," said Vandana, who wants to become a doctor.

Vandana and thousands like her are being supported by the non-profit organisation Planet Aid. The schools in north India are operated by its local partner Humana People to People India.

From July 2016 to last month, 534 Kadam Step-up Centres began or were in operation - reaching nearly 42,000 out-of-school children. More than 19,000 children have been helped into public education, entering school at their age-appropriate level.

Children in India who have fallen through the cracks of the educational system are being given a hand up.

Ester Neltrup, CEO and President of Planet Aid

The centres now operate in six states - Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh - under the auspices of the Indian government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme to make access to education available to all.

"The continual growth of the Kadam Step-Up programme stands as a testament to its effectiveness," said Ester Neltrup, CEO and President of Planet Aid.  

"Children in India who have fallen through the cracks of the educational system are being given a hand up by the Kadam programme so that they can resume their education along with their peers."

The Kadam Step-Up programme enables children to complete their elementary school education through grade eight, either through classes offered at the Step-Up Centre itself or by supporting them in the mainstream school system. 

Staff from the centres also mobilise communities to assist children in enrolling in mainstream education and work with local authorities to obtain registration documentation for students.

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