Back to school: From binding books to reading them

Mohsin from India


Day in and day out, 12-year-old Mohsin would work 10-hour shifts hauling around huge piles of books, desperate to know what was written inside of them.

Working at a book-binding business near his house in northern India, he would be physically exhausted at the end of the day, with no time to play or attend school.

"The whole day I’d carry piles of books; my hands would hurt terribly," Mohsin said. "I was surrounded by books, but I didn’t know what was in them. All I thought about was how it would be if I could study these books I carried tirelessly all day."

Mohsin would earn about 24 pence each week to help his family - his father has bad asthma and cannot work, while his mother Kanij works odd jobs to try to support her family. Mohsin’s three older brothers married and moved out, but that still left eight people in the house to support, and his mother appreciated the help that Mohsin’s work brought to the family.

This is a common situation for many children in India, where 3.25 million children aged five to 14 work.

But things started to change for Mohsin in 2013 when World Vision began a project in his city to help children who were not attending school by creating 14 centres that they could attend. Staff members identify children who are working and invite them to join. They receive tutoring and learn about issues related to child protection. Twenty-one local teachers have spent countless hours tutoring more than 3,000 children at these centres.

When Mohsin began attending, staff at the centre also spent time speaking with his family about the importance of education, and his mother realised that his life could be better if he’s able to attend school.

- World Vision Staff

World Vision works with families to provide them with better economic opportunities and connect them with government services they may be eligible to receive. These programmes help children go back to school as they no longer have to provide for their families. So far in Mohsin's city, the World Vision centres and government programmes in this project have helped more than 2,300 families and 7,600 children.

Just a year after Mohsin began attending the centre, the staff thought he was ready to quit working and enter formal school. Now when Mohsin leaves his house each morning he takes his prized possession - his schoolbag - and has time to play cricket with his friends, too. He feels healthier and happier, and while he once said he did not like his life, he now dreams of the future.

“I love my school books,” he said. “I enjoy school. I like studying English the most. I enjoy math and Hindi too. When I grow up, I want to be a police officer. I want to run fast and catch all the thieves, but I want to finish studying first. Without going to school, I will not become a good police officer.”

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