â€œHow is it that little children are so intelligent and adults so stupid? It must be education that does itâ€
We donâ€™t know what made Alexander Dumas say the above about 200 years ago, but we can say that the status of education, as it is today, generally does more to prevent children from becoming smarter and more productive than it does enabling them to achieve their true potential, and living a life of creativity, intellectual autonomy and financial independence. One often talks about good education in a nostalgic fashion as if it were a thing of past.
We are more than sure that classroom teaching with books alone is no good. It produces only robotic minds unable to deal with changing times and needs. The inclusion of life skills and livelihood skills is very crucial and at Vatsalya these have been an integral part of the curriculum for young adults from the beginning. We assist the children in preparing for an adulthood where they not only are happy and earn a decent living for themselves, but are able to create opportunities for others, too, to follow a similar path.
We are increasing our focus and investments in this area, even if that means making comprises in a few things here and there. The childrenâ€™s parents are the hardest to convince as for them, if their children are not filling notebook after notebook and are not topping their class with â€˜Aâ€™ grades, they are wasting their time. Most would complain, and some would withdraw their children from our school; but we have decided not to make concessions to their shortsighted vision of education. In any case, it is mandatory at Vatsalya School to be enrolled in a vocational training course as soon as they reach the age of 14.
A large number of children who were rescued by us in the past came from a family where in the absence of a father, the helpless, uneducated and unskilled mother had no option but to send her little children out to work. We therefore began including women on a priority basis in our skill-building program. Not only that, we also link them with the market so that they can actually earn from the skill they have learnt. To date, we have included over 6,000 women in our livelihood program and about 70% of these women earn anything between â‚¹4,000 to â‚¹120,000 per month.
Our major partners in skill buildingÂ venture are Anchal, USA;Â iPartner, UK and Fullerton, India.