Alternative Education Programs Reaching the Most Deprived Urban Children - A Precondition to Sustainable Development in India
Rojas Infantas, V.I.
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Half of the world population lives with less than 2 euros a day and socio-economic inequalities have tripled in the past forty years. People living in extreme poverty are unable to contribute to or benefit from sustainable development. For this reason, poverty eradication is both a precondition to and an overriding goal of sustainable development. Poverty is a vicious cycle that transmits from parents to children from generation to generation. Given that it is extremely difficult to change parents' livelihoods and living conditions, it might be best to focus on children and their right to education. Global policies initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals and Education For All, set targets that focus only on formal schooling. As a result, governments, like the Indian government, have responded by making public education free and compulsory for all children. Unfortunately, the formal system and its rigid schedule and fix curricula and location keeps excluding the poorest of the poor. This group of disadvantaged children include ethnic and linguistic minorities, child laborers, migrant children, among others. Alternative Education Programs (AEPs) actively seek and reach children to ensure they get educated. Contrary to traditional practices (where children go to school), AEPs bring school to children's doorstep. The present study focuses on four Alternative Education Programs that provide empowering education opportunities to slum and pavement dwellers in Mumbai, and migrant children living in construction sites in Pune and Ahmedabad. The research hopes to create greater awareness on the important role AEPs play in furthering sustainable development and its goal of eradicating poverty.