Learning and Migration Program
Invisible Labor – The Impact of Distressed Seasonal Migration
Across India, approximately 72 million people migrate from their villages in remote rural areas every year in search of labor, uprooting entire families for up to eight months at a time in hazardous work sites like salt pans, brick kilns, and sugar plantations. All too often, children are forced to migrate with their parents, leaving behind their schools, friends, and communities. Many migrant children, due in part to a lack of education of their parents, never enter school at all. For those who do, migration often results in these children dropping out of school at a very young age and forcing them into work in areas that lack access to basic services like education and healthcare, and where nutritional, health, and hygiene standards are extremely poor. Children who are lucky enough to be enrolled in schools are pulled out of class in the middle of the school year when migration season begins. When they return home months later, they are drastically behind grade level and must repeat the same grade. This educational gap continues to grow wider as the child struggles to learn — contributing to India’s dropout epidemic.
Empowering Whole Villages and Communities
Launched in 2003, the Learning and Migration Program (LAMP) educates and nurtures children in areas of high seasonal migration. LAMP, which was instrumental in identifying distressed seasonal migration as a critical issue facing India, works in some of the most remote regions of the country in highly neglected communities that lack access to education. LAMP provides these children, most of whom are the first in their families to receive an education, with access to continuous, quality, and age-appropriate education. The program provides resources to attend local schools, stable home and educational environments, as well as safe and structured care in seasonal residential hostels during migration season.
“When I see my children’s homework, I am astounded. They have reached a level I can’t comprehend anymore.”
— Madhusan Jagat, parent of LAMP student, Village Sukhpar, Kutch, Gujarat
LAMP consists of two primary interventions – education for children, through seasonal hostels and a learning enrichment program, and community-based advocacy through the national Right to Education Act of 2009. Children of migrants with learning deficiencies are given individual attention to accustom them to mainstream schooling. In addition to basic literacy skills, they also learn many important age-appropriate life and social skills from which the pattern of migration had excluded them, including personal health and hygiene, working in a group, music, art and games to play with other children. They gain the knowledge as well as the confidence to express themselves and set their own goals. Working directly with communities, LAMP also forms village councils and trains community members to improve school management and planning – fostering trust between community leaders, parents, and families, and establishing community wide ownership of the importance of education for their children.
700,000 Public Schools Lack Technology
With 70% of India’s one million public schools lacking basic computing technology, the country is facing significant challenges to prepare its youth for success in the 21st century global economy. Poor school infrastructure, high teacher absenteeism, a large volume of teacher vacancies, and persistently low levels of learning and achievement all contribute to a staggering dropout rate that sees nearly 50% of young people abandoning their education at the key transitional ages of secondary school.
Since 2002, the Digital Equalizer has been bridging this educational and digital divide by bringing technology to schools across India and utilizing technology to transform teaching and learning into a collaborative, project-based approach. The program is creating public education reform by targeting underresourced government schools since 2005. This approach helps teachers to be more effective while motivating and inspiring students to continue their education and open doors of opportunity to higher education and career success.
Transforming Teaching and Learning One School at a Time
The Digital Equalizer begins by equipping each school with a computer center, providing an educational laboratory to enhance student learning that reaches approximately 400 students per site. Targeting secondary students in grades 6-10, the program primarily trains educators in basic computer literacy, internet research and pedagogical methodologies that together bring creativity, diversity, and real-life examples into school curriculum through the use of technology. The Digital Equalizer curriculum ensures that teachers and students are equipped with practical digital literacy skills that enhance both their classroom and out-of-school learning.
“There are no longer any limits to what my students can achieve.”
— Chandra Malkan, Teacher, Shri ND Bhuta High School, Mumbai
Digital Equalizer schools demonstrate improved learning outcomes in subject learning alongside a marked increase in the utilization of technology for teachers and students alike. The impact of Digital Equalizer extends well beyond the classroom: by inspiring students to take charge of their education, parents and communities increasingly support keeping their children in school. To fulfill these objectives, AIF partners with state governments to scale and sustain the work for the long-term by supporting a Digital Equalizer school for three years and building the knowledge, skills, and capacity to instill a culture of learning and discovery through technology in schools across India.
Media & Arts Innovation
A Global Network Fostering Social Good through Creativity
O3 fosters cross-cultural understanding and social good by connecting students, educators, and artists in India, Pakistan, and the United States through the dynamic power of multimedia, music, dance, and theatre. This global engagement platform inspires young people to embark on a path of learning and discovery about themselves, their culture, and the issues that impact their families, their neighborhoods – and our world.
Combining the “global” (cutting-edge multimedia) with the local (Punjabi art forms), O3 provides an interactive learning bridge between the individual and community. Collaborative project-based learning, resulting in original artistic and multimedia works, empower young people to critically understand their own identities, the issues that affect their lives – and take action in their communities to foster cultures of service and responsibility.
While technology has helped eliminate many barriers to knowledge and communication, such borders are very real in post-conflict zones such as Punjab. In connecting locally available cultural resources to the global technology phenomenon of everyday life, O3 fosters cross-cultural understanding through collaborative dialogue to build and harness linkages of a shared Punjabi cultural heritage and foster increased collaboration, cooperation, and understanding.
“Our family, our neighborhood, our world – these three are magical words to me. O3 has brought the world more close for its participants. It has given a new direction to our work.”
— Kavita Arora, Teacher, Bhartiya Vidya Bhawna School, Amritsar
In creating meaningful relationships and connections based on real-life problems and solutions, O3 promotes community building and civic engagement – essential building blocks of secure and prosperous democratic nations.
O3 is a people-to-people cultural diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.