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Aug 29, 2019

Lali - the First One to Go to School in her Family

Lali at her home in Alirajpur
Lali at her home in Alirajpur

Hailing from a remote village in the Alirajpur District of Madhya Pradesh, 10-year old Lali* had only heard of schools but had never been to one. At the tender age of 5, Lali, alongwith her elder brother and her parents, migrated to the neighboring state of Gujarat in search for opportunities for a sustainable livelihood. Since then, she has taken the responsibility of doing the household chores while her parents and her brother toil in the field engaging in hard manual labour. Tragedy struck when her father passed away after a couple of years and they had to return to their village. The loss of a working member in the family resulted in increasing the financial burden on the family, thus forcing them to relentlessly work harder to sustain themselves.

In 2018, Lali was identified as an out-of-school girl during Educate Girls’ field survey. Educate Girls' Field Coordinator, Naseer, and a Team Balika (our village-based volunteer) visited the family to understand the situation. When they reached Lali’s house, the family was found to be very unresponsive. So much so, that her mother wouldn’t even come out of the house. Naseer paid another visit to her house the next day. Naseer states, “When I first visited Lali’s family, I realised that her mother and the elder brother had no say in the decision-making of the household. As is common with families in rural India, it was her grandfather, the patriarchial head who held the final word. So I went and spoke directly to him. He seemed like a wise man and didn’t hold anything against education, but since no one in his entire family had ever been to school, he was unaware about the importance or the returns of education.Another reason for his reluctance to send Lali to school was that she did all the household chores while her mother went to work. Sending her to school would mean the loss of helping hand at home.

I informed them about provisions made by the Government for free education and spoke to them at length about their children's right to education. I also made them aware that it is compulsory for the children falling in the age bracket of 6 to 14 years to go to school. I told them how enrolling Lali in school would enable her to confidently face the world and choose a career that will not only help her stand on her own feet, but will help their family's financial situation as well. Her grandfather didn’t take very long to accede to the idea of sending Lali to school!” asserts Naseer.

After much deliberation, Lali started going to school for the first time!

She was enroled in Grade 3 but as she had never been to school, her foundation had not been set. She felt completely out of place at her school and lagged behind her fellow classmates. The Team Balika of her village and the school teacher took extra lessons and paid special attention to Lali after school hours. Lali's turned ou to be a quick learner and has made plausible improvement in a very short time. She has been going to school for a few months now and has made new friends as well! She loves learning new things and makes it a point to narrate them to her mother and sometimes even teaches her what she learns at school. Her mother waits to listen to Lali’s stories and doesn’t mind the extra work at hand!

 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.

Lali telling her mother what she learnt in school
Lali telling her mother what she learnt in school
May 31, 2019

Fighting Superstitions to Go Back to School!

Vasu, Beneficiary
Vasu, Beneficiary

Vasu* has an elder brother and sister and one younger sister. Her parents are farmers and have never been to school. Her elder siblings have completed 9th Grade and the younger sister is studying in 1st Grade. Unluckily, Vasu wasn’t able to continue with school. She dropped out after attending 1st Grade and was identified as an out-of-school girl by Educate Girls’ Team Balika (community volunteer), Kamlesh, during a field survey. When he reached out to her parents to speak about Vasu’s re-enrolment, they were not very welcoming and insisted that since she’s sick, she wouldn’t be able to go to school. 

Vasu’s school teacher explained the entire scenario to Kamlesh. He said that Vasu used to attend school regularly but once she developed a slight swelling around her mouth she did not come to school for a week. A few days after she came back to school, the swelling returned and this time she did not attend school for over 15 days. This kept happening at regular intervals and eventually she dropped-out of school. Looking for a cure, her parents believed that Vasu was cast with a spell, so instead of taking her to the doctor, they indulged in sorcery.

“I went to Vasu’s house several times to speak to her parents but they were adamant about not sending her back to school. They told me about her poor health and said that they consult with a local ‘baba’ (Black Magician) who told them that she should be kept at home in order for her illness to be cured. I was not shocked since a lot of villagers still hold these age-old superstitions. These superstitions are fear-induced and due to their ignorance, the villagers often fall prey to it. I tried reasoning with them but it did not help.” Says Kamlesh.

In another attempt, he invited Vasu’s parents to one of the community meetings, where he asked the school teacher and other village influencers to speak on the importance of education. Kamlesh himself spoke about how education can help in improving the well-being of an individual and how it has a cumulative effect on the immediate family as well as the community. He told them about the health facilities provided by the Government and urged everyone to avail it.

After 7 months of consistent efforts, Vasu’s parents finally agreed to send her back to school and she was enrolled in Grade 3. Kamlesh told Vasu’s parents that the swelling could have erupted due to an allergic reaction to dust particles. Vasu has been attending school since the past four months and has not had the swelling on her face since then. He told them that she has been learning about how to keep her surroundings clean which will prevent her allergy to erupt again. She now has the basic awareness of health and hygiene which will not only help her but her entire family’s health.

However, since Vasu had missed many classes, she found it difficult to cope up with the pace of teaching in school. But with extra lessons from the school teacher and Kamlesh, in due time she caught up quickly. She can now read sentences in Hindi, form words in English and do basic addition in Math. Her parents are also happy to see their daughter doing well in school and have promised to go to a real doctor if Vasu falls sick again.

* Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.

Vasu reading out a story to her mother.
Vasu reading out a story to her mother.
Vasu learning at school.
Vasu learning at school.

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Jan 30, 2019

GKP kits: A support to the Teacher as well!

Manjula with children at School
Manjula with children at School

Manjula is the only teacher in the school in her village in Banswara district of Rajasthan, India. She has been working with the school for over 8 years. The school consists of 51 students including 29 girls and 22 boys.

After Educate Girls completed its door-to-door survey in Manjula’s village to identify out-of-school-girls, they conducted community meetings among the villagers to make them understand the importance and benefits of girls’ education. Despite single-handedly taking care of her school and being extremely busy, Manjula made it a point to be a part of all the meetings.

Most of the villagers were against the idea of educating girls and sending them to school and hence did not co-operate initially. Manjula being an influential person in the village advocated Educate Girls’ work in her village which had a positive impact on the rigid mind set of the villagers. She not only worked actively with the field coordinator Vitthal in enrolment of out-of-school-girls but also joined hands with Renuka, our Team Balika (community volunteer) from the village in the implementation of Educate Girls’ learning curriculum called Gyan ka Pitara Kits in her school. Gyan ka Pitara (GKP) kits which translates to 'Repository of Knowledge' is an innovative tool used in school to make learning easier for children.

GKP kits consists of colourful, activity based tools focused on building micro-competencies in Hindi, English and Math for children in grades 3, 4 and 5. The GKP kits have been created keeping in view, needs of the most marginalised children and uses interactive methods such as games, stories, visual tools, flash cards, etc. The kit also includes multiple worksheets for individual practice which helped the staff and even the school teachers keep track of every child’s progress.

Benjamin Franklin has rightly said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Manjula is indeed grateful for the 3,000+ piece activity based pedagogy as she said that, “Being a teacher, I already feel there’s a huge responsibility on my shoulders to shape the minds and future of my students. It often gets difficult and tiresome to effectively manage a strength of 50+ students alone.

However, ever since Educate Girls’ Team Balika Renuka approached me to implement the GKP kits in our school, my work has become much easier. The activities in the kit have drastically improved the learning levels of the children. Even those students in my class who could not comprehend the alphabet earlier are now able to easily recognise letters and form words and sentences. Students have also started taking a renewed interest in studies and are more interactive in class!

I am thankful to Educate Girls' team for introducing such an interactive curriculum in classrooms and taking the initiative to implement the same!"

Educate Girls' learning curriculum tools
Educate Girls' learning curriculum tools
Gyan Ka Pitara in action..!
Gyan Ka Pitara in action..!
 
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