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#31 – Creating Alternative Teaching Environment in Assam Valley

Engage non-school attending and dropout students and prepare them to be re-enrolled in regular school.  

The Situation 

Literacy rate in the Assam Valley has increased, yet still, 75% of the population is illiterate. With the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, it was expected that issues of drop out, out-of-school children, quality of education and availability of trained teachers would be addressed in the short to medium term. However, educational opportunities for children in the rural villages of the Barack Valley in Assam India are limited and do not conform to the standards established by the Indian government.  At least 80% of the families in the “tea garden” area of Barack Valley don’t send their children to school.  Instead, they are forced to earn money for their daily survival. 

School dropout is a major challenge in the fifteen villages in which Sisters propose to expand their successful program begun in 2017.  Villagers face many problems in supporting their children’s education including poor transportation, teachers unfamiliar with local dialects, and families needing their children to work.  Dropout youth are exposed to kidnapping, abduction, alcoholism and drug addictions vulnerable to human trafficking. Child labor is rampant. Issues such as early marriage and child marriages are increasing in these villages. The girl child is most vulnerable.  Moreover, literacy rate among women workers is very low in comparison to their male counterparts.  

The Sisters’ Response 

The Sisters have developed successful Bridge schools in 15 rural villages in Barack Valley.  These educational centers have successfully engaged non-school attending and dropout students and prepare them to be re-enrolled in regular school.  Since 2017, 263 children have been re-enrolled in school.   

In Bridge schools they concentrate on curriculum and extracurricular activities like yoga, gardening, and joyful ways of teaching.  Building on their successes, the Sisters plan to expand the quantity and quality of programming in 15 additional villages where they will provide Bridge Schools.  These alternative teaching environments support: 

  • Supplementary education and support for those who have dropped out or not consistently attending school.  Students are assisted to succeed in school (3 hours a day, with engaging and enriching programs on Saturdays) 
  • Career guidance for school children 
  • Teacher training in creative and engaging methods of education for all teachers in the village 

Sisters also work to empower villagers to: 

  • Advocate for their rights to receive government services and programs for their children and themselves, including the quality of educational and vocational services to which they are entitled 
  • Promote good governance through village level organizations that improve their quality of life, including mobilizing village leaders/Headman and church leaders 
  • Promote gender equity and empowering women 
  • Pursue linkages to banks and other secular agencies to enhance efforts to help the poor and marginalized people of Barak Valley.  

Funds Needed 

$24,109 per year for two years to provide 15 additional alternative teaching environments, serving 750 students in 15 rural villages 

Systemic Impact 

Through empowerment, the people in 15 villages build sustainable community through vibrant people-led organizations and ongoing programming.  

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