The Shanti Nagar Slums, located in the outskirts of Rajkot, is home to approximately 500 families living in sub-optimal conditions. An estimated 2,000 children live among this population, and because there is no school within a reasonable proximity to this area, these children have no access to education.
As a result, those aged seven and above often resort to begging in an effort to contribute to their family’s survival. These activities can generate up to Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 per day; a trivial amount by our standards, but a large chunk of these impoverished families’ income.
Recognizing that something had to be done to remedy this situation, an informal learning program was introduced to the Shanti Ngar Slums about two years ago. Under this initiative, younger children are invited to the school, during evening hours, to participate in a 4-5 hour lesson plan.
The program has been very successful thus far, attracting between 400 and 500 regular attendees. However, the building that serves as the school’s venue is in desperate need of repair. Because there is no roof overhead, children often have to endure severe weather if they wish to learn. Temperatures in the summer months often reach temperatures in excess of 110° Fahrenheit. Heavy rainfall during monsoon season means classes get canceled. These interruptions disrupt attendance and the overall effectiveness of the program.
With a contribution from the Apex Foundation, there are now plans in place to construct an overhead barrier of about 1500 square feet. This protective layer will enable the program to continue throughout the year, without threat of inclement weather. Supplemental donations from NGO’s provide further aide in the form of teacher salaries and necessary educational supplies.