A Glim­mer of

As gov­ern­ments across South Asia strug­gle to al­le­vi­ate child poverty and in­crease ed­u­ca­tion, the NGO sec­tor also rises to the task.

Southasia - - Education - By Asma Sid­diqui

To­day, close to 35 mil­lion chil­dren in South Asia are out of school, mak­ing it the most il­lit­er­ate re­gion in the world fol­lowed by the Mid­dle East and North Africa (6.7 mil­lion), East Asia and the Pa­cific (4.7 mil­lion) and Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean (4.2 mil­lion).

In South Asia, a very small per­cent­age of chil­dren com­plete pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion due to high dropout and fail­ure rates. Out of ev­ery 100 students that en­ter the pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion cy­cle, only 10 or fewer reach the sec­ondary school stage. Pub­lic spend­ing on ed­u­ca­tion in South Asia cur­rently av­er­ages about 4.1 per­cent of the GDP – one of the low­est lev­els in any re­gion.

Ac­cord­ing to ‘ The State of the Whole World’s Chil­dren 2012’ chil­dren from poor ur­ban neigh­bor­hoods are among the least likely to at­tend school. A sur­vey in Delhi found a pri­mary school at­ten­dance rate of 54.5 per­cent among chil­dren liv­ing in slums in 2004-2005 com­pared to 90 per­cent for the city as a whole. In Bangladesh, ac­cord­ing to 2009 data, the dif­fer­ences were even more pro­nounced at the sec­ondary level: 18 per­cent of chil­dren in slums at­tended sec­ondary school, com­pared to 53 per­cent in ur­ban ar­eas as a whole and 48 per­cent in ru­ral ar­eas.

In the Mal­dives, Hu­ma­nium, a re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tion for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and child spon­sor­ship, does not set up al­ter­na­tive struc­tures but re­in­forces ex­ist­ing ones in co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and vil­lagers, in or­der to im­prove the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has con­ducted cam­paigns that in­volve aware­ness meet­ings with chil­dren and par­ents to high­light the neg­a­tive ef­fects of child la­bor. Evening tu­ition cen­ters pro­vide aca­demic sup­port to chil­dren, es­pe­cially when their par­ents are il­lit­er­ate or can­not read well. If nec­es­sary, tran­sit schools are es­tab­lished in the

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