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Empowering Children through Alternative Education Programme, Mainstreaming and Vocational Skills Training

The mode of Alternative Education (AE) forms the most important intervention for restoring the rights of the child. The Prayas concept of Alternative Education comprises a planned and structured educational program with options suited to the needs of every dropout child between the age of 6-14 years, who may or may not have been fortunate to go to school. The child-friendly and need-based curriculum initially based on the BRAC (Bangladesh) model has now been developed further in collaboration with NCERT and NIEPA, to check the rate of drop-outs with emphasis on joyful learning and experiential learning through theatre, craft, art, music and games. Bal Panchayats is an essential component in the AE centers, forum ensuring child participation, where children get the opportunity to put up their views. Inclusive Education for giving special attention to slow learners and children with disabilities and Bridge courses also form part of the AE program. The other component includes shelter, healthcare and mid-day meals facilities. Through this programme and aroud 150 Alternative Education centers Prayas reaches out to nearly 50,000 children across the country. (See Prayas projects for details of the AE centers across the country).

The main focus of this well-defined AE program is on mainstreaming children into formal schools combined with availability of training in vocational opportunities. Every year in months of July and August, thousands of children are enrolled into government/ formal schools from AE centers in classes ranging from II to VII. Sponsorship program for the needy children enables them to continue with their formal education. Children, especially those above 13 years are affiliated to National Institute of Open Schooling (NOS), (Prayas has accredition by the Ministry of HRD, GOI to run the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) for street and working children) so that they can continue with their schooling even when their mainstreaming into formal schools is difficult by making facilities for tutorials at different educational institutes and agencies. (Link – NIOS).