Education is one of the most effective agents of change in society. When a child is able to go to school today, he or she sets off a cycle of positive change. But, thousands of children in India lack access to education and can’t even write their own names. Moreover, underprivileged children between the ages of 11 to 14 years are hugely vulnerable to dropping out of schools. An educated child stays away from an early marriage and is empowered to stand up against exploitation. As children grow, they are able to make better choices for themselves and influence the communities they live in. This transforms their present life and ensures a secure future for them.

But even today, one of the major problems is rampant illiteracy in India. The literacy rate in the country stands at 74.04% (according to the National Census, 2011). When it comes to children, the effects of illiteracy are manifold.

While the goal of universal elementary education is a long way from being achieved, and affects the condition of education for children, even adult illiteracy has effects on them. Statistics have shown that children of uneducated mothers are more prone to problems like malnutrition and anaemia. Illiterate adults are also less likely to send their children to school. Education is, in all probability, the most influential tool required to break the vicious intergenerational cycle of abuse, malnutrition, poverty and oppression. Literacy thus requires a lot of attention.

In addition to this, about 35% children in India with disabilities remain out of Elementary school (District Information System for Education – DISE, 2011-12) and the National Dropout Rate at the Elementary Level is over 40% (DISE, 2011-12).

Despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act coming into force in 2010, access to education for every child remains a huge concern in the country. The following are statistics that portray the seriousness of the situation:

• The Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) at the Upper Primary Elementary Level in government schools in India is only 58.3% (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – MoSPI, 2012)

• Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) at the Secondary Level in government schools in India is below 50% (District Information System for Education – DISE, 2011-12)

• About 35% children in India with disabilities remain out of Elementary school (District Information System for Education – DISE, 2011-12)

• School dropout rate amongst adolescent girls in India is as high as 63.5% (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – MoSPI, 2012)

CRY works towards eliminating the root causes behind these statistics to help create access to education for every child. Some of these root causes are:

• Access to schools: For many children, their reason for dropping out is simple. The village school is just too far. Parents, worried for their safety, prefer to have them stay at home than risk travelling the distance alone

• Child Labour: Facing abject poverty parents often resort to sending their children to work. Ending their hopes of finishing school. This makes them bound to labour, with no hope of ever being independent

• Gender Discrimination: Some families that can afford to send their children to school favour their sons over daughters, causing girls to stay at home while their brothers attend school

• No toilets for girls: Lack of separate toilets for boys and girls is one of the leading causes for girls to drop out. The discomfort of sharing a toilet with their fellow classmates and teachers often compels them to give up on school altogether

Child Marriage: In rural India, families live with modest means, and children’s education is never a priority. Marriage is. And since marriage brings the burden of rearing a family, children are forced to drop out of school.

Unless these underlying causes are dealt with, the situation for children will not change. CRY, along with its partner organisations are working at the grassroots level to make sure that children do not have to face these barriers and can fully exercise their right to education.

Donate now so that children can enjoy a future full of opportunities because of the quality education they receive today.