NGOs in Education: Effort vs. Money and Teaching vs. Mentoring

Posted on November 27, 2010 in Society

By A M Radhika:

We have seen a humongous increase in the number of volunteer movements particularly after the year 2003-04 covering a wide range of social service arenas from blood donation and banking to providing shelter for the underprivileged, especially focused on child welfare. Quite a lot of them are entirely devoted to education. Some of the prominent organizations have a continuous development process, indicating very strongly that they are not just names. You can see their actual ground work everywhere here.

It is to be understood that as much as we all like to talk about development, initiative and education, there remains very little one can do without the right resources namely money and people. We are in times when the ‘charity’ angle doesn’t go well. Non-traditional sources of funding like local businessmen and employees, a diversified fund raising program for local, national as well as overseas donors, taking in mass, the college students to help out with their activities as a part of an internship, coalition with educational institutions for infrastructure, developing information kiosks and the outright marketing and publicity are the bigger steps in managing only a child’s primary education that costs little, but pays off so well in shaping an innocent life.

Yes, this does bring us close to ‘development’, but are we to believe this ensures that there would be no drop outs, or if the child’s future is taken care of? Moreover, in times of exceptional demands of skilled workforce, what is primary education going to provide for? How does one bridge the gap between seeking proper clothing/shelter for the winters and paying for school? If well off teens known to you and me alike can throw a ‘I’ll be what I want to be, not what you tell me to’ routine, will it be fair to the boy doing the dirty dishes and cleaning tables in that ‘local dhaba’? May be the answer lies in the pleasant smile of a kid who I just saw coming out of a painting event organized by, of course, an NGO, with blobs of color all over and the outline of a sunrise on the paper. May be this time, instead of applying to glamorous names, you could apply for an internship to change lives and see what actual ground work is all about. May be instead of taking long vacations abroad, you could take your kid for a show of ‘The Other Side of Us’.

Let’s look also, at the bigger picture of education per se moving to the higher education scenario. In ANY education system, the main motto is to bring up an individual capable of surviving well with an overall growth. However, even in normal institutions, we see a huge block of people having all the right education, resources and luxuries but lacking a direction, especially the new students’ community. Thus are created every year, a new breed of drones quoting (read ‘vomiting’) their books. And well, when you are dealing with kids who have little clue what the so called ‘real world’ is, it is very easy for them to be demoralized, distracted or lose interest in ‘trying to live well’ part of it.

We need teaching, but more importantly, we need mentoring. We need giving those kids, the students and the younger folk in general, the old school value system that was imbibed in us, to be there with them whenever they may face the most trivial of doubts, even concerning routine work. To lightly put it, we all need a ‘Will Schuester’ for this club. You’d happily step forth do it for a junior in school/college, a colleague or a junior employee or a good neighbor in need. The open to all question is, would you do it for them?