Throughout the developing world, going to school is rarely free. Students are required to pay their own transportation costs, purchase uniforms, textbooks, notebooks and pencils. Children who cannot afford these basic costs cannot attend school. As families struggle to stay above the poverty line, the additional expense of school becomes an unlikely investment.
And yet, universal education has proven to be the most effective means of eliminating endemic poverty, and on an individual level has been shown to be the most sustainable escape from poverty’s clutches. Research has shown that every year of school increases an individual’s wages by 10 percent. The gains are even greater in developing countries.
In recent years, suicide has been spreading like an epidemic among farmers in India who suffer from debt and crop failure. Often, seeing no hope for themselves or their future generations, whole families commit suicide together.
Through providing scholarships to children of farmers living below the poverty line, Embracing the World aims to lay a stronger economic foundation upon which these families can base their lives. The scholarships give the children new options to break out of the cycle of poverty and give hope to the whole family, thereby working to prevent suicide.
Embracing the World is currently providing scholarships for more than 46,000 children. The goal is to reach 100,000 children throughout India.
With the support of government funding, we run literacy and vocational training programs serving the poorest tribal communities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Historically, the tribal population has been exploited by merchants because they are illiterate and haven’t learned basic arithmetic. By providing adult education, our program aims to help the tribal population achieve fair trade opportunities. More than 100 courses in various occupations are offered, with a special focus on traditional art forms which are in danger of being forgotten by the younger generation. Graduates receive assistance in learning how to market and distribute their products through suitable outlets.
In 2008, Embracing the World’s project in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu won the UNESCO / NLM National Award for being the most effective and efficient administrator of adult education funds in India.
In the tribal district of Idduki, Kerala, we have established a number of afterschool centers to complement the regular schooling of the tribal children. In Pune, Maharashtra, we run an afterschool program for the children of slumdwellers. These children’s illiterate parents are unable to help them study at home, and dropout rates are high.
At our afterschool centers, they are given supplementary tutoring to ensure they get the support they need to stay in school. We also provide the students with notebooks, pens and other necessary school supplies.
The Amrita Speech And Hearing Improvement School is one of the few schools in Kerala that scientifically teaches hearing-impaired children to speak. The school’s curriculum is structured to enable the children to interact with others confidently and lead a full and productive life.
More than 120 children attend the school. The children have a 100 percent pass rate in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate Exam, and do very well in obtaining employment.
The Amrita Institute for Differently Abled is dedicated to providing education for differently-abled children, including those with Down’s Syndrome, epilepsy, autism, and intellectual developmental disability.
Proper developmental therapy incorporating daily skills, early social integration and schooling are provided. The programs provide these children with basic life skills and fundamental concepts that will help them function as independently as possible on a day-to-day basis.
The institute’s teachers have created many different outlets for creative expression for the children. They have often discovered that while the children may not excel academically, they possess hidden talents. Properly cultivated, these talents can be nurtured into skills they will be able to use to make a living in their adult life.
Amrita University has emerged as one of the fastest-growing institutions of higher learning in India. The university offers more than 150 undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs in Engineering, Medicine, Biotechnology, Social Work, Nanosciences and more. With a student population of more than 17,000, the university has been accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council with an ‘A’ grade.
Professors are encouraged to come out of the lab and deploy their research to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. The university is working in partnership with more than 30 leading universities worldwide, including Stanford, MIT and the University of Tokyo.
In 2002, in Ajanta Nagar, Pune, we relocated 700 families from a sprawling slum into sunny new apartment blocks. Today, our volunteers continue to serve the residents of Ajanta Nagar. We work to reduce drop-out rates by providing school supplies as well as free tutoring and other extracurricular activities for the children of the former slum as well those still living in slum settlements. The children say their sessions with our volunteers have rekindled their interest in learning and given them the confidence to dream about their future.