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To mainstream out-of school children, Akshara has two programs

Bridge Courses
A Bridge Course is a 3-month program for children who have dropped out of school. The course is designed to rekindle their spirit of learning and equip them to re-enter the formal schooling system. It focuses on children between 7 and 11 years of age and helps them to be mainstreamed into schools at levels appropriate to their ages. This is a government-run activity-based program, which is supported by our volunteers.

One volunteer teacher per school is identified. He/she has the responsibility of ensuring regular attendance by children. Training for volunteers is conducted by the State Education Department, sanctioned by the Commissioner for Public Instruction and supervised by the District Institute for Education and Training (DIET), Bangalore Urban.

The Bridge Course has covered nearly 11000 children to date through nearly 450 centres. Of these, at least 4000 have joined regular schools.

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Transit Schools(Sadashaale)
A large number of children are working or employed as child labour. They have extremely difficult lives and a denied childhood. Education is the most important way of empowering them. While it is possible to get some of these children into schools, often it is not practical, and some other form of educational net is required to give them basic educational skills. Transit schools are intended for working children, to prepare them for formal schooling.

Transit schools enable urban working children to attend classes within a flexible schedule. They are open for 12 hours a day, and children can attend classes at their convenience, given their difficult schedules.

The transit school program is currently being piloted in 8 areas in Bangalore City.

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We believe that apart from the government, the community also has a key role to play in making the dream of universal elementary education in India a reality. Having established structured initiatives to ensure our involvement in the field, we have now started a Community Outreach Program to involve community members in the education process. This is done in the following way:

Household surveys: A detailed survey of 250 households is carried out in slum areas that are within our working zones.We refer to 250 households as one community. The survey identifies all working and out-of-school children in the area, as well as those in balwadis, those attending school, those who are members of libraries etc. We plan to carry out these surveys in different phases, in all its working zones and ultimately the entire city.

Outreach program: An outreach program is conducted for the identified out-of-school and working children, whereby our volunteers take language and Maths classes for 3 hours daily, within a flexible schedule. Through this, we aim to ensure that every single child in the area covered receives education. After attending an outreach program for 45 days, the student has the option of joining a regular school or taking open school exams.

Community support groups: Support groups consisting of local leaders, shopkeepers and parents are formed. They support our volunteers in getting out-of-school children to study, and in encouraging parents to send their children to school.

Future plans: We plan to promote the creation of Self-Help Groups (also called Educational Affinity Groups or Mahila Mandals), where women are motivated to support the education of children in their community, thereby strengthening our work, and helping in attaining the goal of universal elementary education.

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