Originally published at http://www.borgenmagazine.com/improving-education-in-india-asha/
NEW DELHI — Throughout India, nearly 300 million school-aged children face difficult socio-economic conditions, run-down school infrastructure and other barriers preventing them from getting a quality education. Estimates are that 40 percent of those children of age do not make it past grade eight. To combat this, Asha for Education is dedicated to bringing education to slums and other poor areas of India to help bring about economic change.
Asha for Education is transforming education in India by getting involved in different areas of local Indian communities, from providing health care, special needs and disability care, resource centers as well as a broad scope of educational options.
As part of the Asha mission statement, the organization sees educational, nutritional and health needs as interconnected and jointly necessary in a child’s future. While working with other educational organizations, Asha hopes to achieve universal primary education in India by 2047.
Started in 1991, Asha for Education has since grown into an organization with 50 chapters across three continents, with more than 900 projects in India supported in its 26 years in operation. Between 2001 and 2011, Asha directed $20 million toward children’s education in India, making it one of the largest Indian charity organizations based in the United States.
In 2014 alone, Asha distributed $2.85 million and has supported the education of more than 250,000 kids in India directly. The organization’s passion and commitment to its cause have brought considerable attention and accolades, including the 2015 Times of India Social Impact Award.
One recent innovation that Asha for Education has brought to Indian schools is the Vijnana Vedike initiative. These are group training sessions for teachers that allow educators from different areas to come together and discuss different problems. With more than 80 teachers involved from 70 schools in the Karnataka region, the initiative allows teachers to learn from each other and cooperate in a way that benefits their students.
One of the organization’s biggest projects is the Asha Mumbai Center, which gives children from surrounding slums a stable location for education. It offers basic literacy as well as math and science to children from first to twelfth grade using four different mediums of instruction: Marathi, Hindi, English and Urdu. Complete with a library and workshop and art rooms, the ASHA Mumbai Center has been providing a learning environment for underprivileged children since 2006.
While education remains a pressing issue throughout India, ASHA for education is doing their part to reduce the number of children without reliable education options. In the hopes of reaching the goal of universal primary education in India, ASHA will continue to support schools in slums and rural areas and expand their efforts with new chapters across the country.
– Nicholas Dugan