When I was doing my Masters in Human Development we had to submit our thesis. The topic that I chose was "Motivating The Ragpicking Children Towards Education Through Play-Way Method".
I had two groups. One a control group and the other the experimental group. Both the groups were asked certain questions , to find out their knowledge on various topics. After this, a specific programme was developed to teach the experimental group and a specific curriculum was planned. As part of this programme, they were taught various things about day-to-day happenings and things about their surrounding environment. They were also exposed to a number of creative activities. The activities used more of the audio visual medium i.e., charts, pictures, dramatisation, experiments etc., At the end of one month both the groups were again subjected to the same questions that were asked earlier. A profound change was found in the experimental group. They genuinely enjoyed all the learning excercise given to them. Some of the children, I noticed, were extremely intelligent and very active. The younger they were the better they responded.
Many of these ragpicking children had run away from home at a very young age due to various situations that they had to face on the home front. They led a nomadic life. They did not have one particular place to live in. Many small children I got to know had got addicted to drugs. As they could not obviously buy drugs, they would get a high by inhaling strong smelling chemicals. Many of them had sores and had contracted some form of disease. Overall, it painted a sad picture.
At the end of this thesis, I really felt that "Education" is definitely a key to a better life. The rag picking children need not be imparted education in the tradiational sense where they have to go through the rigours of an examination. Education for them would be more about how to deal with the practicalities of life. It would be about making these children 'world-ready' - something they can use to earn a living and be self-sufficient.
There are various individuals as well as some organisations which I came across who were doing a very commendable job in this field. It is therefore with great respect that I salute them for trying their best to rehabilitate these children into the mainstream. India can definitely progress if all her children are brought into the fold of education from the time they are young. As famous educationist Roussoue said "The mind of a young child is like Tabula Rasa" which means their mind is a clean slate which a good teacher fill with knowledge.
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