The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights identified basic education as a key pillar to the achievement of human dignity. Unfortunately, access to free education remains a major setback for many children living under difficult circumstances. In particular, thousands of children on the Kenyan streets continue lagging in their pursuit of education despite existing efforts to help them acquire various forms of institutionalized education. Unlike the larger population, the realization of success in educating street children requires the aid of an organized framework.
Rehabilitation and habilitation
Despite serving as a platform for knowledge acquisition, the school is a crucial agent of socialization. This makes it necessary for aspiring learners to acquire a certain degree of social skills. In most cases, individuals living on the streets lose these skills after a short period, even if they had attended schools earlier. It is important for those who had dropped out of school before assimilation into street life to be re-trained on the key social skills needed in a school setting. The entire process of helping aspiring learners to regain social skills in preparation for their re-enrollment is achieved through rehabilitation. On the other hand, children born of street families may be completely unknowledgeable of how to mutually coexist with others from diverse backgrounds. They may also need help to remain attentive for slightly longer periods required during lessons. Since the success of education provision relies on such social factors, habilitation is critical in preparing street children for their enrolment. Unlike rehabilitation, habilitation aims at inculcating social skills never attained by the aspiring learner.
Fighting Stigma in Schools
Although enrolling the street child into a school is often perceived as a great achievement, many parties often forget that this is the most challenging stage in the process. The learner is ushered into a new environment full of suspicious eyes. Fellow learners may continue envisioning an imaginary bottle of glue hanging onto his/her lips, while some teachers may see a rude and abusive character. Surviving in this kind of environment may require a lot of psychological support. First, the learner needs to be informed of how to respond appropriately to this environment. Secondly, other members of the school society need to be informed about their role in creating an inclusive environment for everyone.
Provision of Economic Support
Just like other services, the provision of education is accompanied by monetary value. Levies resulting from services and resources need to be paid for. Taking a child from the street to a learning institution is not enough. Instead, involved parties need to plan for the sustenance of the program. Other factors beyond this setting need to be considered besides the resources needed in school. The child will always need a home away from the streets. The new home provides the learner with a sense of belonging and protection from potential distractors.
Despite the costly demands in educating every African child, educating street children provides a key pathway to cognitive liberation. For this reason, education stakeholders need to explore and fill all the gaps hindering the desirable efforts of education provision to street children. Once the right channels are embraced, more positive outcomes will be imminent.