Re-Imagining Out of School Children

Over the last two years, working with children in India who either dropped out of schools or who have never gone to schools before, my biggest learning is that these children are not dropped out but they are ‘pushed out’ of the school and the system. Sometimes they are pushed out because of their own circumstances — financial conditions, looking after younger siblings at home since both the parents need to work and sometimes the adolescent children are made to work and earn for their own families. And then there are other times when these children are pushed out as the schools, unfortunately, are not able to create an environment that kids are interested to learn in. Otherwise, why would anyone leave something that benefits them for a lifetime? Something to think about, for sure!

What I have also realized is the fact that there are children who definitely want to go to schools. They want to have ‘teachers’ — someone who can guide them, someone who can help them learn and someone who can listen to them! All these children have dreams, sparkling eyes full of hope and they want to be heard, they want their dreams to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, they just do not get a platform where they can showcase all of that. Also, are schools, the only places, where they can get such a platform?

What if we created programs for youth in under-served communities that are already in school, to support the out-of-school children to get back in school? And how about creating ecosystems where these youth mutually support one another in their holistic life-development?

And moving beyond that — what if we created learning spaces that kids genuinely wanted to engage with? Where the question that is often heard in schools, ‘Why do I have to learn this?’, is answered not by ‘Because it is on the test’, but with, ‘Great question, let’s explore, and see if it is really needed?’

What if we had places of learning where children decided what they want to learn and then were connected to ‘teachers’, or guides, that could support them with their passions. What if our current idea of out-of-school kids was flipped on its head, and we looked at what kind of knowledge the kids out of school were gaining that the kids in school were not! There was a time, not too long ago, where all learning took place out-of-school! Really, the concept of school, in itself, is alternative!

How can we create systems where these kinds of educational spaces would make sense. Where education was hands-on, relevant, and guided by the learner! Places of learning where learning was decided based on the interest and/or need of the individual, not based on an externally decided curriculum or test. Where kids were not constantly evaluated, and labeled stupid or dumb, based on a monotonous system of evaluation, but rather each child was accepted as an inherently special being with infinite potential.

Can you imagine a world where no kids are labeled ‘in-school’ or ‘out-of-school’, but simply as life-long learners, as they were born to be?

Photo by Tyler Lagalo on Unsplash

Lead Author: Raman Bahl (first three paragraphs)

Raman Bahl is the Co-Founder of Learning Initiatives for India (LIFI). LIFI aims to create a movement of stakeholders across the country who can dedicatedly work with out of school children and have them re-enrolled.

Raman is a Teach For India Alum (Cohort 2012) and after his Fellowship has worn several hats in the education space and has worked as a Teachers’ Trainer, Curriculum Designer and a School Principal.

Anchor Author: Daniel Rudolph

Dan has been living and working in different countries for the past decade. He is dedicated to re-imagining education and enabling opportunities for experiential learning and connection. One of his current passions is learning and spreading juggling.

Dan will be co-facilitating Re-Imagining Our Future, an online course offered by the Charter For Compassion’s Education Institute, starting October 26, 2020.



Can you imaging a more harmonious future?

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