We would like to thank you for encouraging us in our journey to empower girls through education. Our program is going strong and over 46,800 girls have been enrolled in schools since last year.
Almost 17,500 girls have been equipped with life skills and leadership skills. They not only motivate parents of out of school girls to send their daughters to school but they also support the parent-led school management committees to administer their schools. These responsibilities help them develop effective communication, decision making and problem solving skills.
On behalf of the 17,500 girl leaders, we thank you for your continuous support and encouragement.
Gita belongs to a village in Pali district. The entire village migrates during the summer season along with their cattle to distant places like Malwa, Madhya Pradesh. They live a gypsy-like life and keep traveling in search of livelihood. Gita’s siblings do not go to school, but Gita goes regularly! She studies in 7th standard and wants to study further. She wants to continue, till she becomes a teacher!
“I was married off when I was studying in second standard in Rebadia, a neighboring village. My husband and in-laws are also nomads and keep migrating every year. Is this life?” says Gita.
Gita does not like this nomadic lifestyle and wants stability to study and get a good job. Educate girls supported Gita’s dream and helped her get enrolled in school.
She is a member of the Girl’s Council and looks forward to the weekly meetings with the group. Ever since then, her role has been to bring more and more girls to school by visiting their families and encouraging them to educate their girls.
With all the curiosity we inquired, “What if your in-laws prevent you from studying further?”
“No way. My husband is illiterate. I will even make him study. I will not let him live this gypsy life, nor will I”. Gita’s village has a school, but only till eighth grade. For high school she will have to travel three miles far away. “I will go to live with my husband only after 12th grade and that too when they will promise to let me study further. How can I leave my studies in between if I have to get a job!? I will have to work something out!”
Educate Girls’ Bal Sabha (Girl’s Council) empowers Gita and many others like her to make life choices and helps them to pursue their dreams.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the child
On behalf of the entire team of Educate Girls I would like to thank you for encouraging us in our journey to empower girls through education. So much has happened in the last few months that we wanted to briefly update you on the progress.
You will be pleased to know that in February I was invited by TEDxASB to speak to an audience of international educators about rejuvenating government schools. Here is a link to the talk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz7UP-Sgoko.
The Indian Philanthropy Forum’s (IPF) Annual Conference in March 2012 organized by Dasra gave me an opportunity to speak about the issues that adolescent girls in India face at a panel discussion titled “Owning Her Future: Empowering Adolescent Girls in India”. The IPF also saw the release of the Indian Philanthropy Report, 2012 published by Bain and Company. We are happy to report that Educate Girls is featured in the report! Please click - http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/india-philanthropy-report-2012.aspx.
Our programs are going strong with over 20,000 girls enrolled in schools since last year and almost 1186 teachers in Pali and Jalore trained in Creative Learning Techniques. In addition Educate Girls has launched a new initiative in December last year. As part of this, Educate Girls is building a cadre of village based education volunteers known as Team Balika. Over 500 Team Balika members have been recruited and trained across Pali and Jalore. These educated youth are champions for girl education and support Educate Girls’ programs to ensure enrollment and retention of every girl along with provision of quality education. We are delighted to share the Team Balika logo with you.
Our efforts and your support have been appreciated and recognized, we were nominated for the WomenChangeMakers Award and have also been shortlisted for the second stage of the Stars Impact Awards. The results will be declared soon!
We thank you for your continuous support and encouragement for every milestone achieved.
Sukhi Kanwar, 18, is a Team Balika volunteer in a village in Rajasthan, one of India’s largest states and also a region with very great gender disparity. The Team Balika is a group of village volunteers that mentors girls and also works closely with the girl leaders in schools who are primarily adolescent girls. Sukhi is a highly active and motivated Team Balika, working with Educate Girls to enhance girls’ enrollment, education outcomes and encourage adolescent girls to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Sukhi lives with her father Mr Bhanwar Singh, a marginal farmer, in the village of Pratapgarh, in the Pali District of Rajasthan. Sukhi’s mother died of illness when Sukhi was just 2 years old. Like most young girls in Rajasthan, Sukhi too is married but rarely lives with her husband. Even though she didn’t go to school as a kid, Sukhi hasn’t given up her dream of getting an education and she plans to clear her higher secondary exams this year.
When Sukhi first became a Team Balika volunteer, people in her village laughed at her because of her newfound interest in girls’ education issues, and mocked her for trying to change things in her village. But her father was always very supportive of her work and helped motivate her to achieve her goals. A few days after joining Educate Girls she had already motivated five families to support girls’ education and enrolled five girls in nearby schools. The same people who mocked her now respect her and now readily accept what she says.
There was an interesting incident recently that made Sukhi a role model of all the other Team Balika members. Sukhi had identified two girls in the village of Mohra who had never attended school. She convinced their parents to send them to school, but there was an unexpected obstacle in the way. The school headmaster refused admission to them on the grounds that the school was already in session and that the girls could come back in the next academic year.
But Sukhi is not a girl to take things lying down. She immediately contacted Educate Girls' regional office in Pali and spoke to staff member Miss Harshwardhane. She advised Sukhi to ask the headmaster to state his reasons for refusing the girls admission in writing. Sukhi marched up to the headmaster's office the next day and demanded a written statement. Shocked by her confidence and taken aback by her complete lack of fear, he admitted the girls in the school.
We hope all our Team Balika members and adolescent girl Leaders are inspired by Sukhi and overcome obstacles with the same determination as she did!
In order overcome the challenge of working with first generation learners whose parents are unable to improve learning outcomes, Educate Girls has created village based volunteers recognized as “Team Balika”
Team Balika are village based volunteers who facilitate scalable and sustainable community owned programs. These champions for girl child education animate the principles of ‘My Village, My Problems and I am the Solution’. They will act as role models for the village children, especially girls. They are champions for girl child education and mentors to young girls.
Team Balika work very closely with the Girls’ Council to encourage the girls to take initiatives. They empower them, thus paving a way for them to become Leaders of Tomorrow.
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