Neeraj_Step-up12-year-old Neeraj’s clear eyes, bright smile and loud greeting make him stand apart as one enters Step-Up Centre, Dharuhera. A native of Panna district of Madhya Pradesh, it was only three years ago that Neeraj stepped out of his home state for the first time, in tow with his parents, who came to Dharuhera as migrant labourers in search of better livelihood options.
“Earlier, my older siblings used to accompany my parents when they went out of the village in search of work. But with the passing of our grandparents, no one was left to look after us in the village and my parents brought me along as well,” says Neeraj.
Cases such as Neeraj’s have been a perennial predicament for educationists across the country. Education for several children is disrupted due to their parents’ migration to other states in search of better livelihood options. And once derailed, in most cases, the young lives often fail to get back on track. For two years after arriving in Dharuhera, Neeraj was involved in some odd cleaning jobs in the nearby areas. With a lack of any sustained support, the impressionable child quickly fell out of an educational discipline and into a quagmire often associated with an unsettling migrant lifestyle.
“Going to school never interested me. In Panna I completed education till 4th class at the village Government Primary school, though I was never fond of the teacher’s attitude or the way classes were conducted,” recalls Neeraj.
“Once we came here, I got involved with some other migrant kids who lured me into earning money. After two years of doing some odd cleaning jobs, I completely lost interest in education and the habit of regular studying.”
An inherent urge, however, can lay dormant only for so long. Neeraj’s sharp responses, high conceptual understanding and education background from his village school, was spotted by the HPPI team surveying out-of-school students in the region. With active encouragement from his parents, Neeraj was enrolled in the Hero MotoCorp-sponsored Step-up Centre and in the past seven months since he has joined the Centre, the 12-year-old has not missed a single class.
“Studies at the Centre are conducted in very fascinating ways. Games and interesting teaching materials are used by the teachers here, which makes learning a lot of fun,” says Neeraj.
“On Saturdays we have special sessions where we organise and participate in all sorts of recreational activities, such as sports and dance programmes. I’ve never attended classes being conducted in such fun manner. I wish all the schools have such interesting ways of teaching.”
Neeraj’s keen understanding of the subject matter and proficient retention abilities have enabled him to achieve an optimum degree of competency in the Step-up Programme, bringing him at par with his age-appropriate Grade. With the commencement of the new academic year, Neeraj is set to join the nearby Government school as a Grade 6 student.
“I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I want to cure people’s ailments,” says Neeraj with his contagious smile.
An active interest in studies, coupled with the support they’re receiving at the Centre, ensures that several students like Neeraj are able to achieve their life’s ambitions, one step at a time.

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About HPPI

Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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