School has 550 girls of Jaipur slums & provides free education, uniforms, books, meals & subsidised transport to all. Zero financial burden on parents is a big incentive for them to send their daughters to study. Girls when they first arrive in school; their clothes are old, dirty & torn. We give a set of uniform, shoes, sweater to all students when new session begins in April. This instills a sense of dignity in them-they have an identity just like any other child attending any school.
Discrimination against young girls is embedded in our culture and reinforced by poverty. Poverty-stricken parents keep the girls at home watching over siblings or involve them in low skill tasks for minimal income generation. Vimukti Girls School was started by Ms Lavalina Sogani in 2004 after she saw how her domestic help's daugher was being discriminated against because she was a girl. Her brother was sent to school but she wasn't, he was given good food, fruits and milk bur she wasn't.
Lavalina started school with 30 girls, parents were reluctant to send their daughters. It was then decided to make it easier for them to send girls to school by not only providing free education, i.e. charging no fee but also removing other financial burdens of spending money on uniforms, books, milk, fruits & transport. The school has been providing all this free to all its students since then (only transport has been subisidised now since January 2017 as school was unable to bear entire cost)
Over the years, we have succeeded in convincing the community to send their daughters to school. Initially, Vimukti Girls School was looked upon merely as a place where girls got free meals. But as girls learnt to read and write, helped their parents with mathematical calculations and reading newspaper/letters, parents realized importance of girl education. Next session, we plan to increase student strength to 650 from grade KG to XII.