Mobile Learning Center (MLC) Project in India

Mobile Learning Center (MLC) Project in India

Background

While India is attracting international attention with its recent rapid economic growth, the number of street children is estimated to reach 18 million, and to tackle this social issue is an utmost requirement. Having formulated "growth of future generations" as one of the ITOCHU's Activity Guidelines on Social Contribution, we conduct activities to support the sound development of youth as tomorrow's leaders.
Based on this policy, we have been working alongside Save the Children Japan, with cooperation from Save the Children India, on a Mobile Learning Center (MLC) Project in the M-East Ward of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

This project enables us to take advantage of many years of experience to support children's reading through ITOCHU Foundation both in Japan and abroad. Since "books" and "reading activity" is essential for children's growth and development, we strive to extend such support further to the doorsteps of children in India's impoverished community who otherwise cannot access mainstream education.

Furthermore, ITOCHU's corporate philosophy, "Committed to the Global Good" incorporates a commitment to the global good of society and individuals alike, and ITOCHU's respect of human rights and individuality is based on this philosophy. Additionally, a clear guidance such as respecting human rights and no use of child labor is enforced to the suppliers and respect of human rights are also emphasized at the ITOCHU's business activities. Since supporting this project will contribute to rights of children, mainly rights to education, ITOCHU decided to support MLC project.

Further, this project contributes to the Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education designated in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Project Outline

Project partner

Save the Children Japan
Save the Children India

Objective

To deliver education through a mobile learning center to children aged 3 to 14 who lack access to formal education, such as children living in slum areas or on the street.

Project term

The Phase 1: November 2013 to March 2016
(including preparatory period)
The Phase 2: April 2016 to March 2017

Project location

M-East Ward of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Project budget

¥26,500,000

Activities
  1. To establish an access to education for out-of-school children through the Mobile Learning Center (MLC)
  2. To increase awareness towards abolishing child labor amongst employers, governments, parents and communities
  3. To transfer children in child labor to formal education
  4. To advocate to the government to provide alternative education to transfer children in child labor into formal education

Situation of the Project Targeted Location

In M-East ward of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, there is a dumping ground called "Deonar," the oldest and largest garbage mound in India, receiving 5,500 metric tons of waste daily. The project targeted locations are 11 communities adjacent to the garbage mound.

In M-East ward, 77% of the population lives in slum areas and literacy rates are relatively low at 66%, in comparison with the national literacy rate of 74%. Furthermore, more than 55% of children have dropped out of school. These low educational indicators imply (ⅰ) lack of community understanding toward the right to education of children, (ⅱ) poor quality of education (ⅲ) increasing urban issues such as constant migration and urban poverty, and (ⅳ) harsh working conditions in industrial areas such as the massive dumping grounds.

[Photo]
Deonar Dumping Ground

M-East ward of Mumbai

a) Sanjay Nagar Ⅱ, b) Nirankari Nagar, c) Adarsh Nagar, d) Bharat Nagar, e) Padma nagar, f) Shanti nagar, g) Kamala raman nagar, h) Umarkhadi round, i) Baba Nagar, j) Rafi nagar, k) Chikal Wadi

[Photo]
Children working
in the dumping gound
[Photo]
The situation of the project
targted slum area

Conducting a baseline survey

In order to map the street children and children living in the slum in the project targeted location, and to grasp the current situation of children including their problems and severity, a baseline survey was conducted in November 2013. As a result of the survey, we have comprehended the following findings about the children in the project targeted area.

Result of the baseline survey

  • Survey targeted: 1282 children aged from 5 to 14
  • 56% of children have been to pre-school centers.
  • 42% of children aged between 6 to 14 years old have never been to pre-school centers.
  • 8.7% of children have never been to school, and 6.4% of children have dropped out of school.
  • About 80% of children are attending school, but most of them on an irregularly basis.
  • 29 children were engaged in labor. (20 children collecting scraps, 3 children working at hotels or shops, 2 children engaged in day-labor jobs, 2 in garment industry, 2 in family business or household labor)

Project Details and Outputs

The Phase 1: Working through Save the Children Japan (From November 2013 to March 2016)

[Photo]
CAO Kobayashi visited the project site in December 2015

In the Phase 1, in order to achieve the desired outcome, we have formulated the detailed activities and outputs to be achieved in two years and implemented them accordingly with regard to the 4 pillar activities: 1) to establish an access to education for out-of-school children through the MLC, 2) to increase awareness towards abolishing child labor amongst employers, governments, parents and communities, 3) to transfer children in child labor to formal education, and 4) to advocate to the government to provide alternative education to transfer children in child labor into formal education.

The Phase 1: Output Summary

Activities The targeted outcome The actual outcome

Activities 1:
To establish an access to education for out-of-school children through the MLC.

1,200 children (600 children per year) hard-to-reach and out-of-school children have access to education through MLC.

1,995 children hard-to-reach and out-of-school children had access to education through MLC.

Activities 2:
To increase awareness towards abolishing child labor amongst employers, governments, parents and communities.

Key stakeholders including children group, parents, pre-school centers, schools, colleges, employers and municipal governments have awareness of child protection and education for children in order to prevent children in slum from exploitative labor.

The total of 2,219 parents, employers, and educators had learned about child protection and importance of education.

Activities 3:
To transfer children in child labor to formal education.

Drop-out and out-of-school children in the project area are withdrawn from their current engagement in unsafe and exploitative work and 25% of which are enrolled in formal education.

382 children had been enrolled in formal education.

Activities 4:
To advocate to the government to provide alternative education to transfer children in child labor into formal education.

The state and municipal governments have awareness to improve the education opportunity for the hard-to-reach and out- of-school children through advocacy.

Project outcomes and lessons learned were shared with local NGOs, and have been advocated to the municipal government.

The Phase 2: Working with Save the Children India (From April 2016 to March 2017)

In Phase 2, we continued our activities to provide as many children as possible with opportunities for education via MLC. We also focused our efforts on activities related to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) to increase the number of children enrolling in formal primary schools.

The Phase 2: Output Summary

Activities The targeted outcome The actual outcome

Activities 1:
To increase the transition of children from Pre-School to Primary School.

In order to increase the transition of children from Pre-School to Primary School with school readiness skills in pre-school centers, sensitize 200 parents and conduct training for 20 workers of pre-school centers.

Through parents' mela and home visits, 200 parents were sensitized about the importance of ECCE which eventually helped 100 children enrolled in the pre-school centers. And training sessions for 80 workers of pre-school centers were conducted.

Activities 2:
To offer an access to education for out-of-school children through the MLC.

700 children will be reached out through the MLC to have an access to education, and 200 children will be mainstreamed into the formal education system.

700 children were enrolled in the MLC, and 210 children mainstreamed into formal school.

Case Stories

Story of Rubina

[Photo]
Rubina, in the middle hooded with the green scarf

Rubina, a child registered with the Mobile Learning Center, and her parents and six siblings are from a small, impoverished village in Bihar. Around the time Rubina reached her second year in elementary school, she had to drop out to work and help the family financially. However, Rubina's grandmother was determined to return her to school somehow, and moved with Rubina to live with her uncle.
Yet, Rubina was obliged to continue performing housework at her uncle's house, much to the disappointment of her grandmother.
But one day, the grandmother came across a project staff member conducting a house-to-house survey, and this enabled her to send Rubina to the Mobile Learning Center.
The MLC played a crucial role by bridging the lost time and helping her with her lessons. Rubina is back in school and is a cheerfull child once again. She still carries the domestic chores. But she also finds time to go to the Mobile Learning Center to receive remedial tutoring on school work and enjoy art classes.

Story of Shabir, Arifa, and Wajida

[Photo]
Shabir (second right), Arifa (dressed in pink), and Wajida (the front row, dressed in green)

When project staff came across Shabir (12), Arifa (11) and Wajida (10) while conducting a house-to-house survey, the siblings were out of school and left to play in the streets and wandered in their neighborhood, as their parents were unable to prepare the proper school enrollment papers. But after registering with the Mobile Learning Center, the siblings were able to enroll in school eventually, thanks to the support the project staff. Wajida says "I felt amazed to step inside school. I always used to think that we cannot afford school. I still can't believe that I have got admission!"

Story of Ishtiyaakh

[Photo]
Ishtiyaakh

Ishtiyaakh (14) along with his mother and three siblings migrated to Mumbai from Uttar Pradesh near the border with Nepal and settled in this slum ten year ago. The specter of poverty stared at the family with menacing eyes, he did rag picking at the nearby dumping ground for the family's livelihood. It was during door to door survey that MLC educators identified Ishtiyaakh to be out of school child. The MLC counsellor got in touch with his mother and worked on a via media, and suggested that Ishtiyaakh may attend MLC after his daily rag picking work was over. Consequently, he started to come to the Blue Bus and found the joy of learning. Gradually recovering his confidence, Ishtiyaakh was again able to be mainstreamed into the formal school system after 6 months.

"I did not know how I could get back to school. Blue Bus did help me in getting the admission done. I feel happy as I have also started to go to school." said Ishtiyaakh. He now studies in the local municipal school and also does his daily rag picking rounds after school hours to help his family financially. He always seems to find time to visit the Blue Bus for it is from here that the journey of challenging destiny started.

Story of Sifa

[Photo]
Sifa and her mother

In impoverished households with many children, children who require special needs tend to be locked in their houses, and to have no access to the necessary cares and information. The MLC volunteers during their door to door survey identified Sifa (5) to be out of school. Even though she needs a special cares and trainings, her family's financial situation do not permit her attendance to the special school far away from her home. As a result of the MLC staff's persuasion to bring her to the MLC, she was brought to the Blue Bus by her aunt one day, and started to attend the MLC. The colorful interiors, the hustle of children and welcoming teachers had Sifa beaming. Now every morning Sifa can be seen viewing the audio-visual films and pouring over colorful children books kept in the Blue Bus.

"It's tough to find a safe place where I can leave my child to learn basic life skills. Today, I feel MLC is one of the safest places where I find my child is not only smiling or happy but also learning." said Sifa's mother. The project team are holding information and counselling session as how the family and MLC could work together in bringing Sifa into an inclusive learning environment.

  • All photos are provided by Save the Children.