From grinding poverty to graduation

 
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Pramilla
Pramilla

Hello  Everyone!

My name is Naresh Sir And I am Director of Education at People First. I would to thank once again for all your marvellous support. Well, I hope you all you enjoyed the festive season. 

I thought it time you heard from a girl helped by the programme, so I asked" Pramila" (see picture above but  name changed) to write a little about herself for this report. it was written in Hindi and translated but not a single word was changed apart from the name.Here is her open letter to you all..

Namaste! respected persons of great repute,

My name is Pramilla. 

I am about 13 years of age , but I do not know my birthday or birth year. My father is a farmer, we have a little land and I have 3 brothers and two sisters, but I am the first girl in my family to go to school above class 5. I am in class seven . I am so lucky , without the help from people first and the support they give it is very unlikely that I could be here in my classroom, writing to you.

I think it is only right that girls should have same chance as boys, do you know there are villages in Bihar where the local village council  do not want girls to dress in western dress or have a  mobile phone of their own. It is not like that here. We are being educated and therefore we would fight against such ridiculous notions from men. Education awakens us in more ways than literacy or counting and mathematics.

Your help for this programme does reach  to girls like me, without it I could not afford school uniform or books or any tuition this is provided to me free of any cost, so  thank you and please continue to reach out and take the hands of girls like me..

Your student,

Pramilla

 

Links:

Santosh Kumar
Santosh Kumar

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you are well and that all your family are well too.

This report contains a students story, 

As you know our TOP scheme ( The Opportunity Programme)  is not limited to academic ability, but the selection process involves recommendation by teachers , an interview and is very competitive.  We asked Santosh Kumar one of our TOP students to write his story for this  report. Here it is..

"I was born in Bodhgaya, and my family were very poor but I was always interested in my studies, and attended the nearest people first school  from an early age. I had to work at my families market stall selling hats and belts to the tourists and when my father became ill , I had to work even harder.

It was really tough but I am so thankful for all the help and support I got from everyone at People First . I struggled hard, often working late into the night by the light of a lantern, but in-between the market stall and taking responsibility as the oldest son for my father's care, I managed to pass the school leaving examination and I applied for a People First scholarship under the TOP scheme to study full time in Delhi.

My father had improved in his health but there is no way we could afford any kind of further education without help. I got that help , and was able to graduate with a full Diploma in the Spanish language and now I work for an engineering  firm with contracts in South America. I may even be working for a while in Venezuela soon.

 Thank you for all my sponsors , Global Giving,  and everybody here at People First in India for everything you have done for me". 

Santosh Kumar

Please help us change young peoples lives for the better forever.

Naresh Sir ( Education Programme Director)

According to the rules we have changed Santosh's name for the purposes of this report but nothing else has been edited these are is his own words. 

Links:

Ranjeet
Ranjeet

 

Hello Everyone.! I am Naresh, in charge of the education programme here at People First and it's time for a project update . I have asked Ranjeet one of our students, ( we have to change the name according to the rules because we cannot give personally identifiable information),  but what he has written in Hindi and translated is completely unedited.

Namaste. (Greetings)

My name is Ranjeet, I am 17 years old and I have a People First scholarship at Gaya College , and I am studying science.  I come for a village where People First has a school and they have educated me without any cost for me and my family for over 10 years. We are extremely poor, but with my education that will change. But I think you know that People First has this programme, I think you know how wonderful and successful the programme is, how it helps so many students like me to change their lives.

I want to tell you all just what the situation is here for poor students who have to rely in government education, unless like me they are very lucky, and others help them through the goodness of their hearts .

Here in Bihar the government recruited thousands of teachers to fill in the shortages particularly at primary schools  and here's what happened, we discussed this news article in our regular monthly  student meeting with Naresh Sir and others, Its from the BBC dated 15th July 2014.

When authorities in India's Bihar state began a mass recruitment of primary school teachers in 2003, many believed it would lead to an improvement in the quality of education.

Bihar's primary schools did not have enough teachers, so the new recruits were welcomed.

To fill in the hundreds of thousands of vacancies, the appointment rules were relaxed - the teachers were hired on presentation of degree certificates verified by the city or village council officials and they did not have to write any competitive examination.

Known as "contract teachers", these new recruits are paid just 25% of a regular teacher's salary of 40,000 rupees ($666; £389) a month.

More than a decade later, things look relatively better on paper - some 417,000 teachers, a majority of them (362,000) hired in the last decade, are employed with 73,000 primary schools.

But the reality is much grimmer: news washed up recently that more than 20,000 of the new recruits had forged their degree certificates to get their jobs. Authorities have already dismissed 779 teachers after investigation.

Senior education department official Ram Sharnagat told the BBC that they had received complaints against 52,000 teachers for submitting fake certificates.

"We will conduct a thorough probe and those who have forged their certificates will lose their jobs," state Education Minister Brishen Patel said.

Rising corruption

This is not the first time that such a scandal has hit school education in Bihar: some 15,000 teachers were dismissed in December 2008 for providing forged certificates.

That's not all. Education in Bihar is beset with several other problems too. Consider this:

  • Over 60,000 primary schools are running without full-time principals.
  • Last month, more than 50 principals in Kaimur district were suspended after they were found guilty of misappropriating funds meant for building classrooms.
  • Last year, more than 10,000 primary school teachers were dismissed after they failed a mandatory competency test. These teachers failed to name the president of India and the planet closest to sun, among other things, in the test.
  • In 2011, authorities detected two million "ghost" admissions in schools - students took admissions to more than one school to avail state benefits like free bicycles and uniforms.
  • Some 2,800 primary schools in Bihar don't have a single classroom, and 10% of the schools have only one classroom.
  • In July last year, 23 primary students died after consuming contaminated free mid-day meals.

No wonder, say experts, Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in India - 63% against the country's average of 74%. It also has a poor teacher-student ratio with one teacher for every 63 students, against the recommended national average of one teacher for 40 students.

Many of the schools have no classrooms

No wonder then that a primary school teacher in Samastipur district was caught on camera by a local news channel a few years ago telling students that there were 360 days in a year and that Patna - the capital of Bihar - was the Indian capital.

She also spelt January as Junuary, apple as Apil, and education as adukesun.

There's a lot more I could tell you, according the official auditor of the Indian government were sent false figures by the Bihar government in which they reported many more children were at school then there were actual children according to the very recent census, by a large margin.

My country is progressing.

Especially in other States. I am proud to be an Indian.

But please remember things are  often not as they are reported and the need for this programme sadly is as great as it has ever been. Thank you so much for your help, and please help spread the word about this life changing programme.

Your obedient student,

Ranjeet

 

Links:

Girls at Dhobi Village Community School
Girls at Dhobi Village Community School

Hello Everyone,

Here in Bihar, summers here with our schools only open in the early morning as temperatures are reaching  111F by mid afternoon.

As part of the TOP programme here is a letter written by a girl on our community education programme. Each place costs only $25 a month for school fees, support services and books. We have changed the name only, the letter is unedited, but translated from Hindi.

Hello Global Giving Supporters,

Respected greetings to you from my village school in Dhobi, Bihar, India

I don't like Sundays.

Why?

Because there is no School.

Sometimes it's very difficult for girls to get education here in the villages of India. Many get married.

 I refused.

I told my parents I would run away if they tried to marry me before I got a basic and decent education. And yes I want to work, even after I am married. I want to be free and independent . I cannot do any of this without and education but I am poor. Here at the school, they teach us a song called let me go and learn, it is a song we sing to our parents. It says I will do my chores, I will  help in the house, but let me study.

I want you know that I cannot do this alone, if it were not for the support of the girls community education programme, part of the TOP scheme ( the opportunities programme ) . It is not just the financial help I get, it is the support offered to me and the counseling of my parents that makes all the difference .

Please support this appeal so People First can help more girls like me.

from Diya  class 8 Dhobi village school( age 14)

Thank you all once again,

Naresh

Links:

Education is Everything
Education is Everything

Hi Everyone!

Its update time again and I thought  I would ask a girl student at one of our village schools to tell us about her experiences. The students name is Ruby ( we have actually changed the name for privacy reasons), but the words are entirely her own.

"I am  14 years old and I live in Dhobi a small village in south Bihar India. I am the only girl in a family of four children, and my father is a farmer.  I want everyone to know if were not for the girls community education scheme run by People First I would not be at school today. I study in class 7. The programme supports girls who wish to study by providing free education on the condition the parents sign a bond undertaking not to marry them or disturb their education in anyway . Because of this I am the first girl to be educated in my family. 

 As part of the community awareness programme encouraging girls to become educated  recently with our parents we watched a video of a girl from the Yemen who had run away from forced marriage . We applauded her courage!

Sadly this is a problem here too, that is why we need this programme so much.  It is so important. It is our lives.

Thank you for all your help"

By helping this programme you can directly reach out to girls like Ruby. One students education in this programme (in  full time day school) costs only $190 per year.

In our area of work  one in two women cannot read or write. 

 We send our heartfelt appreciation to all of you,

Naresh

Supporting girls at School
Supporting girls at School

Links:

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Project Leader

Nick Hansen

Project Liason Officer
Dhobi Gaya Rd Bodhgaya, Bihar India

Where is this project located?

Map of From grinding poverty to graduation