Informal Education Center

August 23, 2011 · Children

The Informal Education Center (IEC) program is designed to: reach children who would otherwise be denied education, to give children a resource for learning, and to encourage and assist them in pursuing formal education. There are currently two IEC’s being conducted by KCM.

Education is a right for every child in India and is theoretically free of charge to all. However, many children from slum communities are unable to attend school due to a lack of family funds for school fees or pressure to work so as to contribute to the family income. Though the government has introduced free primary education many parents are still not willing to send their children to school. The parents will often cite reasons such as: the school being too far away, not having the necessary funds to pay for books and uniforms, they fear their children will be kidnapped, or they may lack the necessary documentation (i.e. birth certificates) to register for school. Such reasons are common and real problems in the slums. However, the reasons given also point to deeper fears; such as unduly getting children’s hopes up, or relying on a future that is seemingly unattainable. Whatever the fears, we know that a child’s education is one of the families’ primary concerns. When initially building relationships with the community members in Bagmari, a North Kolkata slum, one of the first concerns brought forth by leaders was the the education of their children. Through partnership with Bagmari leaders, the KCM team was able to begin an IEC in April 2007. In late 2008 we were able to start another IEC in Boro Ghati, another North Kolkata slum. The IEC program not only educates children in basic reading, writing and mathematics, but also teaches their parents about the importance of education.