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 Education  India Project #40365

Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India

by Apnalaya
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Educate and Empower 75 under-served youth in India
Life Skill Sessions
Life Skill Sessions

Introduction of School Saheli

The E3 programme supports the education of adolescent girls and prevents child marriages in the community. Under this programme, a group of 10 girls - School Sahelis - are provided with monthly fellowships on the condition that there are zero drop-outs. A peer support model is built to ensure that the girls support and motivate each other. Each group is led by a mentor, who works closely with the girls for a period of four and half years. These mentors are young women pursuing higher education, already trained extensively under different projects of our Citizenship programme. Some of the mentors have also spearheaded campaigns in their respective neighbourhoods – for basic amenities like safe drinking water, electricity, safe spaces and secondary schools.

 The expected outcomes from the School Saheli programme are:

v  Girls complete their Higher Secondary Education or equivalent

v  Marriage before the legal age is avoided by providing an incentive to parents to support their daughters education

v  Through the training on Life Skills curriculum which includes self-awareness, social awareness, improving gender sensitivity the girls will be empowered to make informed choices and exercise agency in shaping their own lives

v  Build a supportive eco-system through consistent parent engagement

v  Mentors become role models in the community


 Highlights of the Reporting Period

E3 is a new programme for Apnalaya, launched in October 2018. The innovation of building collective support and peer networks through cluster scholarships and mentor led life-skills training have brought us good results:

  1. The programme helped the expansion of Apnalaya to three new clusters of Shivaji Nagar: Kamala Raman Nagar 1 & 2 and Raman Mama Nagar. These areas are highly under-served in terms of educational support for adolescent girls and expanding to these areas have also helped us identify further programme areas.
  2. The prevalence of underage marriage among girls enrolled in School Saheli programme in last one year is 0.7 % as compared to the 38% in Shivaji Nagar (The baseline data is from Situation Analysis report, 2017).
  3. The school drop-out rate in the School Saheli programme is 3.5% compared to 29% in Shivaji Nagar.
  4. 35 of the girls enrolled in the programme have enrolled in Junior College for 11th grade. This also means that they are able to travel outside Shivaji Nagar to study.
  5. Parent participation in training has increased and 119 of them have attended sessions on Financial literacy and Gender Awareness.

Challenges and Learning during Implementation

Opening New Bank Accounts:

 It took two  months to open bank accounts for all the sahelis as many girls didn’t have proper identification documents or there were some errors in them. The girls were supported to rectify these and the process of opening a bank account was explained. This caused an initial delay in disbursement of scholarships, but eventually became smoother.

 Attendance Verification Process from Schools:

Building of rapport with schools for attendance verification of adolescents took some time initially. Through mentor and field officer visits, this process got streamlined by the second quarter. This year, some of the girls enrolled into Junior College for their 11th grade and the admission process went on till October. The college visits and verification of attendance therefore took some time. Additionally, building a rapport with these colleges also meant that mentors had to do more than one visit for that quarter.

Prevention of Under-age Marriage:

There is regular engagement with parents, weekly sessions with the sahelis and need based counselling along with conditional cluster scholarship to create a collective pressure against under-age marriage in the community. However, it is not easy to completely prevent such incidents. During the programme, one of our sahelis was secretly married off by her mother, a single parent suffering from chronic heart disease. The girl was not available in the community and there was no way to verify the news. After the incident, group counselling and debriefing was done with the sahelis and their parents. During this session, the Child Protection Policy of Apnalaya and the salient feature of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was also discussed with the parents and girls. The pledge of continuing education and preventing under-age marriage was reiterated as well.

 Low Motivation of Sahelis due to Academic Performance in Board Exams:

10 sahelis were not able to clear their 10th standard state boards exams this year. This resulted in them becoming demotivated and unwilling to continue their education and there was a considerable reduction in family support. This was challenging to deal with. With the support of the counsellor, five of them started preparing for re-examinations and now continue their education.


Impact Stories

Through the focused E3 programme, we have been able to support 190 girls continue their education this year. Almost all of them were at high risk of dropping out and getting married before the legal age. Some of those stories are shared below:

Reshma*, 15 years old is one such girl. It was through the efforts of her grandmother, that Apnalaya was able to convince her mother to continue her schooling. “Since there are only women in my family, there were financial constraints to continue my education. As part of School Saheli, the allowance I get every month helps my family to support my education. I also like to be part of the weekly sessions, where I get to learn more about myself, the society and skills which will help me in my life,” said Reshma.

Initially, Reshma would not attend sessions since she and her family were apprehensive, but the visits by her mentor and encouragement by the peer group motivated her to be regular.

Shabnam* Khan lives in a joint family which has a total of 13 members out of which only two members are employed; her father and his brother.  Her father is an alcoholic and doesn’t support the family financially. Since she is the eldest child in the family, she takes on the responsibility of many household chores. Her father did not want her to continue education because of this, while her mother wanted to support her.

Through home visits and counselling to the parents, the father was convinced to send his daughter for the School Saheli programme and continue her education. After being associated with Apnalaya, her confidence has increased and even the family has started to support her. Shabnam is regular for all the sessions we conduct and and is the first one to help the group members during the activities conducted.

Simran*, Mehtab* and Sindhu*  failed in their exams. Since their neighbours and classmates were teasing them, they were very demotivated and disturbed. Sindhu even stopped talking to her parents and her saheli group. Because of the embarrassment, even though their families were supportive, they were adamant that they do not want to continue in school. The mentor and peer group visited them in their homes to encourage them.

Building their confidence was a process where the counselor, mentor and peer group played important roles. Now they are preparing for their re-examinations and regularly attending weekly mentor-led sessions. Follow up sessions are being taken by counsellor so that they continue being motivated.

This programme has gained immense popularity in the community in such a short period of time. Other parents and girls constantly enquire about the possibility of them joining the programme. The mentors have gained a lot of confidence and enjoy facilitating the sessions.

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The intervention is a project to support the education of adolescent girls and prevent child marriages in the community. Under this intervention, a group of 10 girls are provided with monthly fellowship on the condition that a) they continue their education and b) don’t get married before the legal age. A peer support model is built to ensure that the girls support and motivate each other. Each group is led by a mentor who work closely with girls for a period of four and half years. These mentors will be young women pursuing higher education, already trained extensively under different projects of our Citizenship programme. Some of the mentors have also spearheaded campaigns in their respective neighbourhoods – for basic amenities like safe drinking water, electricity, safe spaces and secondary schools.


  1. Girls complete their education at least till grade XII
  2. Parents are enabled to strengthen the ecosystem conducive of girls’ education
  3. Marriage before the legal age is avoided by providing an incentive to parent’s to support their daughter’s education

Activities during the period of April to June

School Visit

In April 2019, mentors visited the schools where their respective groups are enrolled, mainly to confirm regular school attendance of them. The private schools were very supportive but government schools were very rigid towards giving any information. Due to these visits, we could understand the academic status of these groups. Additionally, the mentors have now built a good rapport with the school teachers so that immediate intervention can be taken if any group member have low attendance. 

Opening of New Bank Accounts

Out of 140 girls, 13 have successfully opened their bank accounts in April. 139 girl now have their own bank account. We encourage for them to open their own accounts as it will help them have an understanding about savings which will eventually help them in future.

Mentor Training


Mentor Training is a very important aspect of this project as all the trainings on Life-Skills with the girls and with parents on Financial Literacy are led by the mentors. This training and review is conducted during the first week of every month along with planning of activities for that month



Home Visits

Every month mentors do the girls' home visits to ensure regular intervention and rapport building with parents. This helps the mentors to understand the family’s attitude towards education. The mentors have done 420 home visits between April to June 2019


Life Skills with Girls


This training tries to inculcate the sense of self- awareness, social awareness, gender sensitivity and a basic understanding of the Indian Constitutions. These sessions are led by mentors who are trained in Apnalaya’s Curriculum. The mentors have started taking sessions with the girls on a weekly basis, which begins with group norming, creating a safe environment for sharing and have open discussions and self- awareness

Financial Literacy with Mentors and Parents

Financial literacy training is provided to help the parents develop a basic understanding of the flow of resources (money) within a family.  The module also includes topics like how to improve savings and optimal utilization of family income. The training encourages them to reflect upon the gender discrimination in context of the financial inclusion of women in Shivaji Nagar. This also motivates the parents to start saving regularly in appropriate ways so that they can give better education to their children. Mentors were trained on 5th May and then they conducted workshops with 77 parents on 23rd, 24th, and 26th  May respectively


1. Financial Independence for Mentors

After the Financial Literacy training, mentors have now started saving from their stipend. They are even paying their own fees for continuing education.

2. Developing Positive Relation with Schools

Due to the quarterly school visits, we now have a very good rapport with the teachers and Principals. The school staff themselves give information to mentors regarding attendance or academic status. This helps mentors to intervene immediately if any issues come up.

Challenges and Learning during implementation

1. Barriers in workshop attendance

As most of the sahelis in the 10 standard they find difficulty in attending workshops. The mentors then have to re-plan the workshops several times as we do not want the sahelis to miss out on important topics.

2. Developing a feeling of belonging in Sahelis

Initially, when the sahelis were called for workshops they would hesitate to come as they didn’t know each other. After the sessions started with parents and girls, they started interacting with each other. The mentor’s home visits also helped parents to understand the importance of education, because of which their participation in the workshops increased.

3. Weekly Sessions during Vacation

During vacations most of the sahelis go to their native places so many of the workshops planned for them gets delayed. Girls in 10 standard have extra classes in schools even on Sundays, it becomes very difficult for mentors to plan their time slots for sessions

4. Prevention of Child Marriage in Shivaji Nagar

Under-age marriage is a reality in Apnalaya due to various aspects like low levels of education, and misguided perceptions of gender. So Apnalaya works with the parents through workshop on gender and sessions on POCSO were taken for 10 girls and their parents to avoid such incident. In addition, Apnalaya also works with young boys to develop them as allies in addressing this challenge.


Impact Story:   

Sakina continues her education and supports girls in her community as well.

When Sakina was in 9th standard, she dropped out of school.  Her father was suffering from severe osteoporosis, and with little money to survive as it was, every penny had to be diverted to help him with his treatment.

Fortunately for Sakina, because she had earlier been part of the Khula Aasmaan programme, Apnalaya staff identified her and convinced her to be a Educate and empower mentor. While mentoring she understood the importance of education and how it will impact her future. She then enrolled herself in school again and started paying her own fees with the stipend amount.

“Seeing my mentors in Khula Aasmaan (now Educate and empower colleagues) and how well they were doing in their studies gave me the push to re-join school again,” said Sakina who is currently studying in 10th standard through an open school.

“After being associated with Apnalaya, my confidence has increased.  I used to be a quiet person who kept to herself but now if something is bothering me, I voice it out, I’m not meek anymore,” she said. “The support that the other mentors have given me is something I have never experienced before,“ she added.


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Organization Information


Location: Mumbai City, Maharashtra - India
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @apnalayatweets?lang=en
Project Leader:
Malathy Madathilezham
Mumbai City, Maharashtra India
$4,838 raised of $34,113 goal
50 donations
$29,275 to go
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