Lack of awareness and guidance has led to the loss of many opportunities, especially for the people living in the remotest part of India. Armed with the bare minimum education and resources, they are often unaware of the benefits they can avail through various welfare and education schemes run by the Government.
11-year old Deepali* who lives in a small village in the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh also missed the opportunity to start her education at an early age due to such lack of information and guidance.
When the Covid-19 lockdown eased in several states of India, Educate Girls began Camp Vidya, a community-based learning initiative to bridge the gap in education. Educate Girls team went door-to-door to spread the word and enroll children in Camp Vidya. This is when Educate Girls’ Field Coordinator Jayaram came across Deepali. He got to know that she had never been to school when he spoke to her parents.
“Deepali’s parents are labourers and often struggle to get two square meals a day. Covid had made their living situation worse but they somehow got through. When I went to their home to encourage them to send Deepali to Camp Vidya I got to know that she had never been enrolled in school!
Upon further discussion, I found out that they had tried to enrol her a few years ago but due to the lack of certain documents and proper guidance, they couldn’t go ahead with the process. They went back home and did not feel the need to send her to school anymore. They were happy to get another helping hand at home. By now, even Deepali had accepted her fate to stay at home and also felt that if she goes to school now, she would be older than her classmates and they would all make fun of her.
This was common mindset across the village - a majority of the population focused on getting more income and girls were not sent to school as they would get married anyway” says Jayaram.
He urged them to send Deepali to Camp Vidya, but they didn’t feel the need as she was already 11 years old. However, Jayaram requested them, making several home visits and informing them about the benefits of education and also about the various government schemes they could avail. Finally, after many conversations, they agreed to send Deepali to Camp Vidya.
When Deepali first stepped into Camp Vidya, everything was new and strange to her. She had never even held a pencil in her hand! She was hesitant to speak. Initially, she sat away from everyone, not speaking even when approached. But slowly she observer others in the class and with the help of Team Balika (community volunteers), she started engaging in class. In a matter of weeks, she has now made friends, takes help from them and has started learning with enthusiasm! Her parents are also glad to see the change in her happy demeanour and personality.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.