January 31 is recognized as UNESCO International Street Children’s Day. A tragic consequence of today’s world is the rapidly growing number of street children. The United Nations estimates the population of street children worldwide at 150 million. These children are abandoned; they are also AIDS orphans or offspring of impoverished parents who have them live and work in the streets.
Surprising I am addressing this topic at an age and date when usually the newspapers and other media are focusing on performances of youngsters winning accolades in examinations and careers and Indians being highlighted as the top salaried executives around the world leaving the rest of us envious of these accomplishments.
What is the meaning of all this if we have not been able to transfer our knowledge to others. The elite Schools and Institutions do boast of knowledge transfer. But that is elite. That is 100% cut off. That is special coaching costs other than fees amounting to lakhs of rupees. And a fancy admission into a Foreign University. The buck stops there.
The summer vacations are in. The results are pouring in. The temperatures are souring but the thought of uplifting society is still to be witnessed.
I write to address this pressing issue of educating street children. We talk of a Smart City. Who comprises the Smart City. The few elite bloggers who take pride in belonging to any and every essential non essential gossip floating around just to belong there. It is time to let knowledge flow. Cascade to the last kid on the street.
In a society where we from our AC cars, look out of the window and find an irritant wiping your windscreen. Twisting and folding her/his body for a single rupee.
It’s annoying. Shoo them away, they will disfigure my car. India will never learn.
But India will learn if India teaches. India taught you too but did you teach India?
And it’s simple. You don’t need a fancy AC classroom, a Smart class technology, an all wifi zone, it’s all there. Your students are ready to learn anywhere, on the pavements, in public parks, in a friend’s garage, under a lamp post in a crowded market…anywhere. It’s time to pull up our socks, tie up our laces and move. Offer some part of your summer vacation with the aim of providing street children with care, story time, self help economic dependency, medical and hygiene knowledge, understanding and nurturing skill of the child, food habits and an opportunity to build a relationship of trust with another child….you…and protective social skills to help them be safe on the streets.
Below are a few guide lines taken from the International Living Values Education Program.
Process 1: Build a feeling of safety, trust and well-being through values-based relationships and psychosocial elements.
Process 2: Build personal resources intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
Process 3: Begin the healing process in relation to negative life experiences.
Process 4: Develop protective social skills.
Process 5: Learn about human rights and the workings of the real world; begin to contribute to the community.
Process 6: Develop skills in relationship to the real world; interact beneficially with the environment and learn vocational skills.
Teach them, love them, transfer what you know to them, share with them, and uplift them. YOU and only YOU can do this. And you thought you are too young to do this. Don’t wait to grow up. Just stand up with them and you will know how tall you stand amongst them.