Myth 1: Parents would rather send children to work than to school.
Fact: Parents not only want their children to go to school, but also want quality education for them. Now, little Krishna doesn’t have to show his earnings at the end of each day. Nor is Laxmi expected to play surrogate mother to her siblings. Instead, if they don’t get good grades, not only children, but also teachers are questioned!
Myth 2: Parents don’t want to spend money on their children.
At Sunbeam, education is free of cost upto the 9th std. For coaching classes for SSC and Junior college, the parents contribute upto 50% of the cost. They contribute 50% even for college fees.
Myth 3: Parents need incentives to co-operate
When the project first started out, a nutritious snack was given to children to compensate for their poor diet. This was discontinued in 2000. Because we found that parents had started incorporating low-cost nutritious components in their food. The health workers job was rendered redundant because parents started taking children to the government hospital rather than waiting for the doctor and health worker.
Sunbeam could have achieved little without the support of the community. They want to be part of the positive change in their children’s lives. So they enthusiastically participate in community meetings, even coaxing reluctant parents to co-operate.
It’s taken a lot of coaxing, but parents are also now agreeable to educating girl children beyond SSC. For them, it’s now a matter of pride that their children go to college.
What’s also heartening is that the marriage age for girls is pushed up from a tender 12-13 to a more mature 18.