Education is every child’s fundamental right. All girls and boys should have an equal opportunity to learn. Despite the power of education to transform lives, millions of children remain out of school. On the occasion of International Literacy Day on September 8, ActionAid Association launched ‘Yes to School’, a campaign to advance the agenda of education.
The ‘Yes to School’ campaign runs across 15 states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The main objectives of this campaign include ensuring free, quality and inclusive education for all children and their protection from all forms of discrimination and violence. It is actively working towards addressing varied issues related to protection, health, nutrition and education of children.
Quality education for all needs schools to have effective governance processes. Thus, the campaign focuses on empowering communities and strengthening School Management Committees (SMCs) to enable regular discussions on all school-related issues.
In villages, adolescent leaders, frontline workers and Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members are holding meetings to sensitize communities on child rights. They are mobilizing pledges from communities to always say ‘Yes to School and No to Child Marriage and Child Labour’.
In Uttar Pradesh, together with government officials, we were able to identify 70 children at risk of being forced into work and rescued 37 child labourers. Through our collective efforts, we also actively took up the issue of child marriage in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan and West Bengal. More than 2.94 lakh girls and 2.62 lakh boys have participated through the various adolescent forums in the activities organized under this campaign.
The campaign promotes education of the girl child, encouraging them to continue their education. As a result of the efforts of Shiksha Sarathi, our volunteers in Rajasthan, more than 5,000 out-of-school adolescent girls and women from eight districts of the state came forward to register for open schooling under the Shiksha Setu Scheme of the Department of Women Empowerment, Government of Rajasthan.
The campaign is engaging with both officials from the Education and the Women and Child Development Departments as well as the community-based organizations and community leaders. The aim is to reach out to people who can act as potential influencers within communities to spread awareness on education and child rights. Nearly 6,000 frontline workers and PRI members, and around 7,300 women and 3,300 men from within the communities in these states have been actively leading and facilitating the campaign action on the ground.
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