New Delhi: An innovative new project has been launched in India to tackle the critical issue of ensuring quality education for street children within the Commonwealth. Project Out of School Children (OoSC) is a breakthrough initiative with a mission to enrol, educate and empower 127 million children out of school in the Commonwealth nations with a special focus on India’s 17.7mn children. Established and conceptualised by global educationalist Amreesh Chandra, Project OoSC converts renewable shipping containers into vibrant classrooms targeting Out of School children.
The project is based on the premise that “education is a basic right” and that no child should be left behind of achieving Quality Education, a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Project OoSC also supports six further SDGs including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).
The curtain raiser for the project took place on Thursday, 19th December at the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, New Delhi. The key VIPs in attendance included Amb. Olufemi Abikoye, High Commissioner of Nigeria, Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, Chairman of India Business Group and the Senior Independent Director of the England Wales Cricket Board (ECB) who pledged to support the project OoSC, Professor Prajapati Trivedi, Senior Director, Commonwealth Secretariat, London and special envoy for Commonwealth SDG initiatives, Priti Srivastava, Senior Vice President, Reliance industries, Alex Mirza, Chairman, Go Learn Guru (UK), Amarjit Singh, Managing Director, India Business Group, Mohit Singh, Managing Director, Shipra Group, Professor Sabu Padmadasan, Associate Dean (International) of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor of Demography and Global Health, and Founding Co-Director of the Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty and Policy (GHP3) at the University of Southampton and Pinky Pradhan, Director Communication and Marketing, Plan India.
The event also witnessed several other VIP guests in attendance and marked the launch of a Coffee Table Book on Project OoSC. Guests were also encouraged to pledge their commitment to the project by placing a coloured handprint on a pledge wall.
Project OoSC’s vision is to establish 50 container schools across 4 states in India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh by the first quarter of 2020. Thanks to swift assembly and the ability to transport easily, the Project’s use of shipping container classrooms helps to install infrastructure for education and enables more children to attend school. In addition, the project will help to ensure high standards of training to educators to enable the spread of quality education and to spark a literacy movement in remote communities across the commonwealth.
Expressing his concern over the status of young children’s education in India, multi-award-wining, international educationalist Amreesh Chandra who has been running schools in Uttar Pradesh for the last three decades pioneered this initiative that delivers three types of learning spaces, libraries, kindergarten schools and primary schools, though a one world one book curriculum. He said: “Despite the fact that today there are more children in school around the world than at any other time in history, there are still 262 million children who are not. Even more concerning is the fact that over half of the school age population around the world is failing to reach the minimum level of proficiency in literacy and numeracy.
We have launched Project OoSC to comprehensively tackle this issue. The Project will focus on putting infrastructure in place that enables more children to access school, ensuring quality education through training teachers and providing resources, and encouraging reading through a literacy movement. Our first live project finally taking shape in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
The second project is coming up shortly in Mirzapur District of Uttar Pradesh and the third one is due in the outskirts of a village in Jaipur. We are also in the process of convincing governments to observe one day each year as Out of School Children Day and generate enough funds for setting up new schools. Project OoSC will enrol, educate and empower the next generation, and ensure that no child is left behind”