Sunday, July 4, 2010

So You Want to Help Children: Back to School Week Concludes at the Dhaba

This week, students all over Delhi have been heading back to school, so we've been talking about issues related to education.  On Tuesday, we told students how to write at a green poem.  On Thursday, we looked at better ways to teach green mathematics.

But a lot of children don't get a chance to study properly, because they spend a large part of their days selling newspapers and magazines at some of the busiest intersections in the city. 
Tehelka, Outlook, Cosmo, and many others contract with vendors who employ children to sell their magazines.  You know this is true, because you see it nearly every day!  If questioned, the magazines will deny their responsibility--or say they have no choice, given a competitive market.  It's shameful.  If the press can't take a stand on this, who ever will? 

Well, one would like to think the government would take a stand on child labour, even if the press ignores it's own role in it.  But that seems unlikely, given the fact that so many children are at work on many Commonwealth Games projects.  This child, sleeping just next to a deep excavation in the ground, was not working on a government project when my son snapped this photo:

But these children were working on government projects.  (Many of the photos in this sequence were taken along Khel Gaon--and I saw them on the road long after this story ran.)

It's a big problem--what to do?  I don't have the answer to that question, but I can point you in some interesting directions. 

If you want to DO something: 
I've seen these three organizations in action and they are worth your support! Do give.

A brand new group which looks promising:
One Hundred Books:  A facebook group to "collect, as well as raise funding for a hundred good books (to start with) to be donated to government schools in Delhi."

Another group that comes highly recommended:
Manzil:"a non-profit organization providing a community and resources for local youth from low-income backgrounds to learn, teach, be creative, and see the world in new ways." Based in Khan Market and Kotla.  Further info in first comment to this post!

If you want to READ something:
NGO Post: This site is full of information and volunteer opportunities.
Mindfields: a good magazine about education.
Pratham survey: good news and bad news from village schools.
Arjun Sodhi: a student who can think!

What happens when students think better than their elected leaders: Jairam Ramesh Gets a Roasting from TISS Students in Mumbai. (Via SpaceBar)
Kids' stuff, reviewed at the Dhaba:
Our Toxic World: project by Toxic Link, script by Aniruddha Sen Gupta, illustrations by Priya Kuriyan
The Story of Stuff (video) by Annie Leonard
The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon
Saffron White and Green by Subhadra Sen Gupta (short review at the end of the linked post)

Recycled Dhaba Posts about Kids and Schools:
Green Book Giving Advice: includes advice about what to do with books for kids!


  1. I'd add Manzil to this list.

    I had been hearing good things about them from friends and was happy to meet Ravi recently.

    More about their work:

  2. Chandni, Thanks for adding this. Manzil looks good. I put a link in the main post, to make it more visible!

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  3. Jean Giono's classic 'The Man who Planted Trees', complete with woodcut illustrations, is available in a slim, nicely produced low-cost Indian edition for Rs. 25. You can buy it at Nai Taleem Alternative Press bookshop/ Greenfields, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai. And at other places too I'm sure. Happy to see it again.

  4. @Amruta, will definitely look for this.


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