Saturday, 29 October 2011

Update The Wisdom Academy - October 2011

Happy Diwali!  
India is the land of festivals. Throughout the year there are numerous celebrations. In addition to national festivals, all states and regions have their own local festivities, many of them lasting for several days. Indian children have many holidays from school!

Two big festivals in October are Dussehra and Diwali. Dussehra is devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama, it signifies the victory of good over evil. In Rajasthan, people are burning effigies of Ravana on Dussehra, symbolizing the burning of evil. Diwali is the Festival of Lights. It’s one of the most important festivals for Hindus. It represents the start of the Hindu New Year and is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness. Lots of small clay lamps (diyas) are lit and placed in and around houses, and fireworks are let off everywhere. People give each other gifts and (lots of) sweets during the festival.

The Wisdom Academy schools were closed for one week for the Dussehra/Diwali holidays.

Lakshmi Pooja during Diwali.
A sacred ritual during which Lakshmi is being worshipped, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. 

Drop outs
Unfortunately, in the past months, some children were taken out of school by their parents. A 10-year-old boy was sent to Delhi by his family to work as a domestic worker (‘servant’) in a middle class household. Two girls (9 and 10 years old) returned to the rural villages in West Bengal from which their families have migrated to Jaipur. They now have to take care of their grandparents and work in the fields.
The Wisdom Academy tries to convince the parents to get their children back to Jaipur, and allow them to go to school for a few more years.

Access to education for working children    
Many children in the slums are forced to work to support their family, and do not have the opportunity to attend regular schooling. That’s why The Wisdom Academy is also running afternoon school programs inside some slums, where huts are being used as class rooms. Classes are being given in the late afternoon and shortened to about two and half hours, so the children can work during the day.

Naturally, both The Wisdom Academy and Narangi are against child labour. But the reality is that in many poor families children earn an important portion of a family’s income. By employing the ‘earn and learn approach’ these boys and girls can continue working and have access to education.