Reducing Inequality by Ensuring Formal Education

Reducing Inequality by Ensuring Formal Education

Nine-year-old Zaid* is studying in a primary school in Balrampur. However, he would have missed formal education had Oxfam India not intervened. Zaid’s parents Aabiya Khatoon and Anwar Ali work as farm labourers; they believed in the conventional education and sent him to madrasa. Neither of his eight siblings – four brothers and four sisters – ever attended a formal school.

Oxfam India works in the poorest fives states in the country and as part of its work on education it works with along with its grassroots partners and School Management Committees (SMCs) tracks out-of-school children in its intervention areas and ensures that they get back to school. 

In one such instance, Oxfam India identified Zaid and 11 other children who were not attending any formal school. Counseling sessions about the importance of formal education were held for both parents and children. It was critical helping his parents understand the importance of formal education and that depriving their child of formal education will further deprive him of opportunities for living a dignified life. Oxfam India staff on the ground also held meetings with the Gram Pradhan to motivate other parents from the Muslim community to enrol their children in formal schools.
Zaid is the first generation in his family to attend a formal school. 

In school teachers paid extra attention to Zaid to ensure that he could cope with the classes he missed as well as the challenges of first generation learner. Extracurricular activities and meetings with children collectives (children led organizations) helped Zaid make new friends. Seeing Zaid’s progress, parents of the other 11 out of school children were also motivated to send their children to school. All 12 children identified in this child tracking activity are now enrolled in a formal school. 


Zaid and the others first engaged with children at school through games, and then began their integration in the formal classes. This helped them to integrate better with the formal structure of schooling. They continue to attend the Madrasa after school hours. 

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Zaid says, “Learning in primary school is fun for me. I have made new friends and learned poems in school. I like the mid-day meal and games that we play in school with my friends.”

Oxfam India continues to work with grassroots partners to help out of school children and enrol them in school. This it does with a special focus on the girl child and in the five poorest states it works in. Oxfam India campaigns for the proper implementation of the Right to Education Act by working with parents, district and village level authorities, teachers, and School Management Committees (SMCs). It helps strengthen SMCs for the proper functioning of schools and helps form grievance redressal mechanisms. Oxfam India works with community members to form parents’ collectives, children’s collectives, and state and district level collectives to coordinate efforts to enrol children in school. Oxfam India also campaigns for girl child education in India to help ensure the education of girls.


Oxfam India is among the founding members of the RTE forum and continues to monitor the progress of the RTE Act along with other Civil Society Members. It also advocates with the government to implement inclusive policies so every child, especially the girl child, has access to quality education irrespective of their socio-economic background.

Since last year, more than 22,000 children (53% girl children) from Oxfam India’s intervention areas are receiving quality education. Active participation from the SMCs and community leaders helped prepare 120 school development plans. 400 schools were made functional in terms of quality education and infrastructure. More than 2000 SMCs engaged in advocacy and awareness programmes to ensure compliance of the RTE Act.

Oxfam India continues to work to send every child to school. Support us to ensure child education in India.

*Name changed to protect identity


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