Nearly 40% of children who leave shelter homes after turning 18 are unable to complete schooling, 50% are unable to find paid work, and almost 70% are unaware of their after-care entitlements under the law; found a study by the NGO Udayan Care, TATA Trusts, and UNICEF. This is a very alarming situation because even after the provision of many acts and shelter homes, the kids still are deprived of better lives. The children in shelter homes are those who are either orphans or those whose parents are unable to keep them due to poverty. Such children are well kept in shelter homes. Laws are revised from time-to-time for ensuring the better care of children. The children get the basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. However, these necessities are not enough to make them capable of living a better life in the future. The population of people who don’t have enough earnings to meet their basic needs, is quite high. If such people have children, they are unable to take care of the latter. Consequently, high number of children are admitted to shelter homes. Apart from this, high malnutrition rate of India shows the high population that lacks even basic food. Thus, shelter homes can at least feed such children. The social discrimination against girls in our society is another reason why a greater number of girls are sent off to shelter homes. The ignorance and unawareness of parents is also a reason why a high number of children end up in shelter homes. Due to less access to medical facilities, there is a high mortality rate of women giving birth to child. The women die post-delivery due to lack of medical facilities and care; such children too then become prone to being in shelter homes. A child needs quality education to be aware, confident, capable, and independent in life. According to the Legatum Prosperity Index 2015, India ranks 99 among the 142 countries that have been assessed. Education, being the most fundamental need of any developing country, should be India’s number one priority. The shelter homes keep the children till they turn 18. After that, care centres take care of adults. However, various studies reveal that many people are unaware about the existence of these centres. When such people try to find jobs, they are unable to because lack of quality education. For admissions in the institutes for higher studies on scholarship, they need to clear the examination. However, they lack basic education, and thus remain deprived of higher education too.
Multiple Consequences of Lack of Education
The primary reason for not getting jobs is the lack of proper education. As we all know, unemployment can be a huge problem in a person’s life. Without employment, a person can’t even fulfil his basic needs of food and shelter. Many a times, we see that such children are forced into illegal activities. Over 30% of youth aged 15-29 years in India, lacks employment, education or training (NEETs). This is more than double the OECD average and almost three times that of China. According to the OECD, youth inactivity presents the share of young people (age 15-29) not getting employment, education or training (NEET) as a percentage of the total number of young people in the corresponding age group. According to OECD 2017, at 3.8% of GDP, public spending on education in India is lower than countries like Brazil and Malaysia. The focus of the government needs to shift to spending on enhancing the quality of education and vocational training. All these measures together could possibly improve India’s track record in job creation.
Other problem that arises due to lack of proper education is lack of awareness. Adults enter the social world after being in a different zone till then. They do not know well enough about the external world and its ways. Many such adults get indulged in illegal activities, wherein they are manipulated. Girls are subjected to brothels, human trafficking, and begging. The trafficking of young girls (under the age of 18) has grown 14 times over the last decade and has grown by 65% in the year 2014. according to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB). According to the US State Department, approximately 600,000 to 820,000 people are trafficked per year across international borders, and up to 50% of those are children. This is definitely seen as a growing issue in Asia. In India specifically, it is estimated that around 135,000 children are trafficked each year. According to UNICEF, 12.6 million children are engaged in hazardous occupations. In 2009, it was estimated that 1.2 million children were trafficked worldwide for sexual exploitation, including for prostitution or the production of sexually abusive images. Only 10% of human trafficking in India is international, while 90% is interstate. According to a report by the National Human Rights Commission of India, 40,000 children are abducted each year, leaving 11,000 untraced. NGO's estimate that between 12,000 and 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring nations as a part of the sex trade. There are an estimated 300,000 child beggars in India.
At a national level, Article 23 of the Constitution of India explicitly bans human trafficking. The Government of India has also passed other acts and amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to address the challenge of child trafficking. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986 (ITPA) is an amended version of The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (SITA). SITA made human trafficking for prostitution illegal and outlined legal action against people involved in human trafficking in any capacity. ITPA made laws friendlier towards the victim. ITPA also created a system to rehabilitate victims of trafficking and prevent them from bring trafficked again. In 2013, the IPC was amended to create new provisions to address human trafficking in India. These are supposed to be more in line with the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. The lack of understanding about trafficking by the legal system could be because of one or more of these factors: first, there is no definition of "trafficking" or "trafficker" under the Act. Therefore, the police and the judiciary do not have an understanding of the complexities involved when a woman is trafficked, the different types of traffickers, and their strategies. Neither does the court attempt to hear out the trafficked woman and her experiences. Second, the Act also focuses on establishing "the purposes of prostitution" for every offence, which conveniently takes the attention away from trafficking. This is a complex scenario but it can be overcome through proper education provided to children.
India became one of the 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the act came into force on 1 April 2010. The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’.
‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fees or charges or expenses which may be a barrier in the way of educational qualification.
‘Compulsory education’ is an initiative to mandate the elementary education to the children in the age group of 6-14 years and it also strictly state the responsibility of Government and local administration to provide and ensure admissions, attendance and completion of education of every child. The recent verdict of Court to provide the education to every child even when they are unable to pay fees during this pandemic. Article 45 Provision for free and compulsory education for children states the State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. The obligations created by Article 41, 45 and 46 of the Constitution can be discharged by the State, either by establishing institutions on its own or by aiding, recognising, and/or by granting affiliation to private educational institutions. When aid is not granted to private educational institutions and merely recognition or affiliation is granted, it may not be insisted that the private education institutions shall only charge that fee as is charged for similar courses in governmental institutions. The private educational institutions have to and are entitled to charge a higher fee, not exceeding the fixed ceiling. The major loophole in RTE comes up when the real underprivileged children lack education and there is evidence of scams.
The shelter homes children study in the state government schools. The state government schools are not up to the mark when it comes to providing quality education. According to the surveys, the state government schools do not have enough resources. Most of the schools do not have proper building and seating arrangement for the students. The teachers are ignorant and do not pay attention to the children’s problems. While government schools remain the largest provider of elementary education in the country, forming 80% of all recognised schools, it suffers from shortage of teachers and infrastructural gaps. Several habitations lack schools altogether. There are frequent allegations of government schools being perplexed with absenteeism and fumbling in management. In spite of the appeal of free lunch within the government schools, numerous guardians send their children to private schools. Normal teacher compensations in private provincial schools in a few States are significantly lower than those in government schools. As a result, the defenders of low-cost private schools study the government schools as being no fair value for money. The number of children getting enrolled in private schools is increasing due to these reasons but the shelter home kids do not have that option. As per the discussion with few shelter home kids, it was observed that the teachers merely give them he important questions for examinations. Such children are too innocent to even understand what they lack. Their doubts and queries remain unresolved. They mug up the answers but do not understand the concept. A child needs to understand science, social science, mathematics, and the languages; that’s why the education system was created.
The problem that a person faces due to lack of education is huge. However, when she or he lacks the support from family and friends, it is all the more difficult. The shelter home children face all of these problems alone. If the quality of education provided to them is good; then they can find a good job, be independent, aware and capable enough to live a good life. Education should also be imparted to every person as a basic necessity.
The Ways to Provide Quality Education Could Entail-
· Make the government schools well-structured, and ensure sanitation and comfortable environment to keep the children healthy as well as interested in studies. Good conditions lead to better focus on the topics taught.
· Government should ensure that the teachers are performing their duties well. There must be some authorities to keep a check on the faculties.
· As responsible people, we should also contribute to children’s education. By donating books, copies, and stationary items to the shelter homes; we can help those kids.
· Many NGOs give tuition to the shelter home kids. We must help such NGOs to impart quality education to the children.
· We can also contribute by visiting the shelter homes on weekends and teaching those kids a subject in which we are good. This can help the children to understand the subjects well. Our interest to teach will not only make the kids enthusiastic but also make them feel less vulnerable.
· Many students are good at art, dance, and sports but could not build a career in these fields. We also need to impart such skill knowledge to the children to open avenues for different career options. We should also try to create a medium to provide hobby classes to them.
· If everyone can contribute a little for the education of children, then it can be a big success and support for them. Providing webcams and projectors to shelter homes to impart online education to the children can be a good way to spread knowledge. YouTube also provides skill classes online as well educational classes.
· The need for love, support, and care is huge for these children. Visiting and meeting the children can make them feel loved and you can know more about their problems.
· To ensure zero vulnerability, we should also try to give training in the government schools so that they can be skilled for factory works.
· Government schools and our efforts can together make the children educated. Consequently, no innocent person will be forced into illegal activities. No one will die of hunger and poverty.