Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India

by Women's Education Project
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India
Send 100 Young Women to Leadership Academy, India

Women’s Education Project / WEP - India

Program Report

Date: From 15.02.2021 - To 31.05.2021

Center Name: Aarti WEP Leadership Academy - Kadapa

Report By: Aarti Home staff

Daily Activities. 

Aarti for Girls/Kadapa in collaboration with WEP/India is running a Community College - Aarti Community College. As part of this college, ACC is training selected young women and girls to become entrepreneurs in their lives and thereby gaining economic independence. WEP's Leadership Academy curriculum is part of this College. This is a residential program, and was conducted safely at the Aarti Home.

Average Center attendance: 95%

Classes, tutorials, study hours, nutrition program, reading (and other daily activities): 

Students attended classes in: 

  1. Basic English Communication Skills, 
  2. Telugu Classes
  3. Learning skills to deal their day to day affairs
  4. Basic computer skills
  5. Indian heritage and culture
  6. Basic knowledge in Geography, History, Indian Polity and Arithmetic
  7. Basic skills in photography
  8. Personality Development - Mindfulness and Leadership

Teachers / tutors / student mentors: 16 teachers and resource people and three student mentors taught and facilitated the program. 

Mentoring

Each of the mentors was allotted approximately 10 participants each and the three mentors were constantly speaking to the participants both as a group and on one to one basis. As a result of these conversations, the participants were able to overcome their problems and gain confidence in dealing with their issues.

Special activities: 

  1. As part of making the students aware of the rich indian heritage and culture, it was scheduled to take the students to the temples and traditional arts and crafts centres situated within Kadapa district. This could not be achieved due to the ongoing pandemic. However, participants were taken on virtual tours of the river ganges. 
  2. They were shown videos on the saree draping styles adopted by the people from various regions of the country. The participants draped the sarees and presented themselves.
  3. The participants were taught to make some homemade grooming products. Intense discussions were held and the participants, after watching the source videos, developed recipes to make “Aloe Vera based facials”.
  4.  A group of social workers and the faculty from the IIT/Chennai came forward to teach the participants about basic requirements needed to start a small business. They covered topics like 
    1. Basic accounts - Profit and Loss statements.
    2. Basic IT infrastructure needed for the small startup.
    3. Assessment of consumer needs.
    4. Assessment of materials and other things needed for production.

Class Details 

 

Basic English communication Skills: The curriculum of this course is to make the participants communicate freely and faultlessly in English. The participants were taught the basics of English Grammar. As part of the daily routine,   participants took turns  to share their ‘good thing for the day’ and speak on a selected subject. This resulted in boosting their confidence while conversing in English, and speaking in front of a group. The participants were taught the various nuances of grammar in English, the correct pronunciation and meaning of various  words including homonyms. 
Telugu Classes:  These classes were conducted by a doctorate in Telugu and the main objective of these classes was to make the participants aware of the richness of Telugu language. They were taught the poems by the famous poets and were told the meaning of these poems. These poems speak about  the values and virtues in our lives and how a person should conduct himself to create an ideal society. Apart for these poems the participants were also introduced to the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatham.
Learning skills : The participants, during this class were made to understand and get familiar with the day to day activities like dealing with their finances (banks/post offices), travelling to other towns on their own, preparing the budget for a small family.

    1. Their curriculum started with teaching them the history of the banking industry in the country. They were made to understand the banking activities.
    2. As part of imparting practical knowledge to the participants they were made to fill the following forms.
      1. Bank account opening form. They were made to understand the meaning of the home branch and different activities that are possible only in the home branch.
      2. Cash deposit forms
      3. Cash withdrawal forms.
      4. Usage of ATM cards. They were made to understand the difference between the credit cards and the ATM cards.
      5. They were taught about internet banking and the safety steps to be followed while doing online transactions.
    3. They were taught how to fill a PAN Card Application and the basics of income tax. They were shown an example for calculating income tax for a salaried person.
    4. They were taught about various means for obtaining funds for their ventures like 
      1. Seeking the assistance of the government in getting funds, utilising various schemes available for the women entrepreneurs
      2. They were told about DWRCA: Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas
      3. Venture Capital
      4. Crowdfunding
      5. Loans from friends and relatives (partnerships)
      6. Loans from the banks
    5. They were told how to fill various forms like Railway reservation forms and how to book rail/Bus/Air tickets Online.
    6. They were also told how to read the railway time table and find out the best option available for their journey

Basic Computer Skills : As the name suggests, the participants were taught about the basics of using computers, using MS Office (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) and e-mail. With the advent of digitisation across the globe, many jobs require fundamental computer skills to perform well. While basic computer skills include knowing how to type, understanding social media and having general web skills, there are several more to consider, such as:

    1. Productivity software
    2. Operating systems
    3. Presentation software
    4. Digital marketing
    5. Computer programming
    6. Graphic design
    7. Communication tools
    8. Database management
    9. Accounting software

Indian Heritage and Culture: These sessions were mainly focussed in teaching the participants about the culture and heritage of India. They were taught about the various practices followed in the olden times and their merits. They were also made aware of the virtues associated with the virtues of Indian scriptures.

Basic knowledge of Geography, History, Indian polity and Arithmetic: 

    1. The participants were told about the geography of India and the geography of the world.
      1. With regards to the geography of the world they were told about the various continents and were taught how to read the maps.
      2. They were given a self learning exercise on looking at the globe and identifying the oceans and the continents.
      3. In the self learning exercise,they were asked to learn about the various countries of the world (African, South and North American, Asia and European continents). They were told to learn the countries, their capitals and the currency used in these countries. 
      4. They were made to work on the puzzles. They were shown the cards displaying the maps of the nations and were asked to identify the country, it’s capital and it’s currency.
      5. As a self learning exercise they were asked to identify the places of tourist interest in the European countries and write a brief on these monuments.
      6. They were also told about the Solar system and how the rotation of the earth impacts the day and night and about the revolution of the earth around the sun that creates the seasons.

In History the participants were made aware of the following topics:

      1. Why is it important to know history?
      2. They were told about Archaeology and how the archaeologists seek evidence to recreate the history through the evidence discovered.
      3. They were told about the birth of the Universe and how the homo sapiens evolved and how they  migrated from Africa to various parts of the globe.
      4. They were told about how the civilization developed and how the humans started settling down at a place
      5. They were told about the Indus Valley Civilization and about Vedic civilization.
      6. They were told about the Empires of Maurya - specifically about Chandra Gupta Maurya and Ashoka.

 

Indian Polity:  The participants were taught the following topics as part of the Curriculum.

 

    1. Indian constitution : They were told about the importance of the constitution and what is the function of the constitution and why we need the Constitution.
    2. They were told about how the constitution of India was written and about the constituent assembly.
    3. They were made to memorise the Preamble of the constitution.
    4. The Fundamental rights and the fundamental duties enshrined in the constitution were discussed with them.  
    5. They were told about how the laws are made in India. They were also told about the three organs of the government and how they are linked to each other.

Arithmetic: The following topics were taught to the participants.

    1. They were taught ratios and proportions and how the rations and proportions are useful in our day to day life
    2. Finding out the LCM and GCF
    3. Percentages.
    4. Calculation of Simple Interest

Basic Photography and videography skills: 

  1. Basic Photography:This is aimed at getting the participants to know the basics of photography and videography using DSLR cameras and mobile phones.
    1. They were shown various parts of the DSLR camera and were told about the functioning of these parts.
    2. They were told about the importance of the shutter speed, aperture and the ISO.
    3. The participants felt very happy to handle expensive cameras and to learn about the basic principles of photography, like choosing a suitable background, right time for clicking the picture and getting a perfect composition for the picture.
  2. Basics in Photoshop: They were also taught to edit their pictures using photo editing software like Photoshop.

Personality Development: The curriculum of this subject is based on the objective to make the participants mindful of themselves and to develop themselves as good citizens of the world. They were taught to become aware of themselves, their thoughts, feelings, perceptions, their surroundings, and persons and objects in their surroundings. This awareness brings about the observation of what occurs inside of them, how their emotions and thoughts are manifested and how their experiences are inculcated. They were taught to respect their peers . A detailed description of the activities conducted can be found in Leadership Academy Activities.

Assessment : Regular tests were conducted to assess the performance of the participants.
Other Special Activities 
Date: Various dates during the month.
Objectives: To inculcate personality development skills in the participants
Number of participants: 30
Student feedback: All these sessions were activity based and were conducted purley on a participatory basis. The participants enjoyed the sessions most and they learnt a lot of things from these sessions. The most important things learnt by them are
Start off the basic exercise of breathing for 5-6 minutes. This regulates the breathing as well as keeps the focus on the breath. This is one of the foremost exercises to develop focus and be mindful of oneself.
Respecting others and waiting for their turn to express their opinion. This is done through exercises like walking meditation. While 5 participants are walking, the others are observing.
Observing things and explaining them, being in the present and neither letting the mind wander into the past nor dreaming about the future.
Building trust amongst the peers and dependable guidance. Team building exercises are conducted like painting as a group and making a meaning out of that.
Self-awareness in terms of thoughts, feelings and perceptions as a complete experience. This brings about a change in the approach of the participants towards their very life. The exercises included drawing and talking about their intentions and plans for the future. Also group discussions were conducted.
Thinking out of the box through 9 dots exercise. The exercise gave a completely new perspective to the participants in approaching a problem to bring about a solution.
Topics like complaint and commitment were introduced to the participants through activity based learning. The different types of complaints and the seriousness of commitment to oneself was clearly understood.

 

Observations: 

The participants were enthusiastic about learning through exercises. 

Game like methodology of the teaching experience was adopted, and hence the active involvement and inclusion of every participant was obvious.

Commitment brought perspective to the participants in paving their path towards the future.

Understanding about communication, conversation and complaint introduced a world of new possibilities to the participants to what they have been aware of till now in their lives.

Aarti Home Photo
Aarti Home Photo
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Photography Class
Photography Class

PROGRAM REPORT EXCERPT

by AARTI FOR GIRLS - March, 2021

Aarti for Girls, a non profit organisation, was started in 1992 as a home for abandoned and underprivileged girls. Since inception, the goal of Aarti for Girls has been to identify the cause of social injustice towards a girl child. To address this issue Aarti discovered several paths to reach out to women to educate them, make them economically independent and empower them. Since then Aarti has worked on several women welfare, education and empowerment programmes, thus impacting numerous women in the district.

Since 2002, WEP has led a consortium of women NGOs for young women to become economically independent. WEP provides each partner its Leadership Academy, a framework curriculum, for which the NGO provides area resources and focuses the curriculum on local needs.

Aarti for Girls has been a part of this consortium since 2012. Together, Aarti and WEP provide the Leadership Academy to equip women with skills to discover their voice and thrive in rewarding careers.

Objectives 

At Aarti Home, the Academy's focus is to teach sustainable livelihood skills to young women so that they can achieve financial independence while staying on in their own homes. We hope this will reduce their need to migrate back to the cities.  In addition to the above mentioned objective, it was also perceived that these women, after becoming entrepreneurs, will provide employment to the local women and thereby impact the lives of her community.

In the early days of May/June 2020, a lot of brainstorming sessions were conducted with staff and subject experts. The curriculum was formed to teach the required skills to the participants so that the objective of the sessions could be achieved.  The Aarti team and students, both teaching and non-teaching, were selected with great care. For this first batch, 30 participants were selected for this batch. The Academy actually started functioning on the first of September and the classrooms were set up following all the precautions prescribed to deal with the Covid situation.  

 

SISTERHOOD : To inculcate the Sisterhood amongst the participants, they were split into batches of 7 to 8 members and each of the batch was kept under the mentorship of a mentor. These mentors were talking to the participants and were guiding them.

The Following Courses were taught : 

  1. Life skills and mindfulness : The objective of the sessions was to practice Mindfulness to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression. 
  2. English Language : The content of the course was selected to make the participants confident in communicating (both written and spoken communications). 
  3. Telugu Language: The aim of teaching Telugu to the participants is to make them freely converse in their mother tongue. It was thought that, by teaching them basics of Telugu literature, a lost interest in their culture and mother tongue can be rekindled in their minds.
    1. Poems by the famous saint poets in Telugu
    2. Poems from Epics
    3. Stories for Panchatantra
    4. Biographies
  4. IT Skills : The objective of teaching this course is to make the participants conversant with fundamentals of the computer so that they can use the computers to their fullest advantage. They learned: Basic of computer - Operating Systems - MS. Office - Presentation software - Spreadsheets - Email communication - G Suite
  5. Learning Skills: The participants were taught about managing their banking operations, formulation of budget for a small family, various Government regulations, structures, rights, principles of GST, Basics of indian governance and basic arithmetic. 
  6. Photography, videography and photoshop: The objective of including this topic in the course is to teach the participants important techniques in business/marketing photography to present them to their clients and upload them on the social media platforms. The participants were taught basics of videography and basic components of a DSLR camera.
  7. Vocational skills in Garment Making and Terracotta Jewelry Making:  This topic’s prime objective is to teach the participants about basic garment designing, the basics of terracotta jewelry making and Beautician.  After the completion of the course, the participants are expected to design garments, design terracotta jewelry
  8. My Explorations - students visited: 
  • Virtual tour of Ganga: 
  • Virtual tour of Ram Leela
  • Industrial visit to Onipenta and other places of importance: 06/01/21
  • Industrial Visit to Madhavaram and temple visit at Attirala
  • Industrial visit to RTPP
  • Environmental visit to Zoo and Talakona falls

Special Activities - Muggulu Videos for the Microsoft team, Talks with an OBGYN, Talks on Violence against women, Talk by the House Surgeons (HIV-AIDS ), Skill in Knitting

Mentoring : The participants were divided into seven different groups of six to seven members in each group and they were allotted  a mentor who is a reputed person in her field of operation. The mentors were talking to the participants as a group or on a one to one basis. The mentors were counselling their mentees on different topics like career guidance and how to present themselves in public. 

Challenges:

  1. The sessions started in the month of August, during the peak of the Corona pandemic. Arranging the space for conducting the classes following all the designated safety norms was a real challenge. However, this problem was overcome by providing personal computers at 6 feet distance.
  2. The campus is located outside the towns municipal limits and providing net connectivity was a real challenge. This issue was overcome by establishing a Internet Leased Line for Jio
  3. As many of the classes were being conducted ONLINE, the class had to face regular issues with internet connectivity from the resource persons end also.
  4. Getting the participants registered for the course was THE GREATEST challenge. The team formulated a procedure for recruiting the participants and interviewed them. Many of the participants expressed their concern of coming to the campus due to the CORONA pandemic.

Outcomes 

  1. The participants were very excited to learn many new things and that too from people who have great experience in their subject.
  2. It was very satisfying to see the active participation of the students and to notice the way they started communicating in English. This was possible due the sustained efforts of the teacher, who is a pioneer in the field. At the end of the course, the students were able to select Telugu poems and translate them into English.
  3. The participants learnt a great deal in handling their day to day affairs relating to bank transactions, travelling using different modes etc.
  4. The participants learnt the basics of computer skills and they were able to create documents using MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  5. They were able to plan their needs and formulate a budget needed to run their family.
  6. They learnt about the functioning of the Indian Government and the functions of various departments and about the basics of Indian constitution.
  7. They were comfortable with handling expensive cameras and were able to produce fantastic pictures.
  8. Helped by the training they received in arithmetic three students were able to clear the admission tests conducted by a software training institute and will be reporting in the institute very shortly.
Field Trip
Field Trip
Computer Class
Computer Class

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WEP/Aarti student give Speech on Ripple Effect
WEP/Aarti student give Speech on Ripple Effect

Women’s Education Project (WEP) established partnerships with Aarti Home, a residence for over 100 orphaned and abandoned girls in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, Cerana Foundation in Hyderabad, Telangana, and Sudar Foundation in Madurai Tamil Nadu - providing its Leadership Academy, for young women to become economically independent. Below are excerpts from their reports detailing activies from November 2020 - February 2021: 

Sudar Foundation reports:
Over the last few months, activities have been held online and in-person.
  • 85 students were provided college scholarships
  • 30 students attended regular Spoken English classes and its final exam.
  • 17 students attended an advanced course on Tally (accounting software) conducted in partnership with Vision Trust.
  • Students led Technology club, Financial club (famiy budgeting), Dance and Sports Club, Language Club (ex. tamil poetry) -  mostly online. They were well attended and enjoyed.  
  • Workshops were held: 52 students attended "Child Marriage and Child Labour, coordinated by the ChildLine and 43 students attended "Women Entrepreneurship" led by an area nutritionist and a business woman for 15 years. 

Cerena Foundation Reports:

Online and inperson workshops and clubs were conducted. 

  • Of the 120 students, 35 students were found in need of the mobile data scholarships to attend online Academy activities
  • Scholarships were provided to area colleges
  • A four session study skills workshops were held online. The students submitted their assignments through Google Classroom
  • 32 students attended weekly book club (divided into four groups) and enjoyed reading fiction, short stories, biographies and autobiographies, mystery and advenure. Each were provided new books. They learned how to tell stories in many of the sessions.
  • Mentors conducted home visits to support the students and their families in this time of Covid-19. Techniques for staying safe were shared.
  • Students grew kitchen gardens for their families. 
Aarti Home Reports

Women’s Education Project and Aarti Home, in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, India have partnered since 2012 to offer WEP’s I Am a Leader curriculum, to the Aarti Home residents. October 2020 - January 2021, WEP provided our newly revised Leadership Academy, to 30 Aarti students. Aarti decided to form an entrepreneurial focus teaching the students skills in pottery, jewelry making, and professional photography. A second batch began in March 2021.  

The students met daily 6 days a week attending alongside the entrepreneurial classes, courses in life skills, communication, technology and community engagement (the ripple effect). 

RECENT UPDATES

  • Before the Covid pandemic, Sowmika, who will be completing the WEP Leadership Academy in February, herself abandoned as a baby, worked in area villages (some of the poorest villages of Andhra Pradesh) to prevent over 60 feticides and enroll 100s of girls into school. For this, Sowmika was selected to be an Ananta Aspen Institute Emerging Leader. 
  • A teacher, who provides English and life skills courses, reports that “the students are showing considerable progress in their ability to express themselves in English. The focus this month has been on revision of topics taught. As their vocabulary increases, the students are more curious to know the meanings of new words that they come across.” 
  • In October, the students presented the ancient art form of Rangoli to a group of Microsoft employees, forming the start of WEP’s Corporate Connect program - an exchange between employees and students. 

 

 

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Women’s Education Project (WEP) established partnerships with Aarti Home, a residence for over 100 orphaned and abandoned girls in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, Cerana Foundation in Hyderabad, Telangana, and Sudar Foundation in Madurai Tamil Nadu - providing its I Am a Leader curriculum, for young women to become economically independent. In 2019, WEP invited its partners to pilot its revised curriculum, the Leadership Academy.  

In April, 2020, when COVID-19 reached India, Aarti Home, Cerana and Sudar students and staff went into full lock-down. Over the next few months, WEP restricted Academy activities to online (aside from the Aarti Home, where thirty young women, already quarantined and living together were able to attend the Academy, in person).

Partner Report excerpts from May - November are below (showing the only possible program of the Academy).

Aarti Home - WEP Leadership Academy was inaugurated on the 27th of August, 2020. The following is the report of activities conducted during the month of September 2020 (abbreviated). Each day starts the day with mindfulness practice. English is being taught by Ms. Reddy, the participants were taught about nouns, adjectives and verbs. The skill syllabus was created to teach about various activities: banking and business basics, Computer Skils: MS Office, Internet Browsing, Website design etc. Entrepreneurial Skills: Photography, Terracotta Jewellery, Tailoring Class. Special Events: a seminar by the Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society of Hyderabad was organized by eminent Gynaecologists from Hyderabad addressed on various topics relating to Women Health / Hygiene and Legal Awareness. Ms. Swathi, the founder of Terra Viridis, a sustainable architecture design consultancy based out of Hyderabad, spoke to the participants about her experiences and challenges in starting her firm. She spoke to the participants on environmental issues, greenhouse gases, etc. She advised the participants to follow their passion and be truthful to themselves.

Cerana - True to its name, ‘the morning light’, WEP's Ushassu has been spreading light in the lives of underprivileged girls. Two centres: Urban (45 students) and Rural (70 students) in the age group of 16–27 years, from seven colonies and 35 semi-villages in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. During COVID, the students made kitchen garden and interviewed their elders to make a traditional cookery book. They identified non-ration card holders – providing relief by connecting them to authorities concerned. They made masks for sanitation workers and taught them about COVID protection. Many of the families were provided rations. Aside from this, the students formed clubs and safely meet regularly in their villages, to discuss issues and support each other. 

Sudar Foundation - For 85 students, we created google classrooms and enrolled our  students for our online programs  in English, Study Skills, and Government Exam Preparation. The students formed their own clubs, set goals and meet regularly online: Tech Club, 19 students. Financial Club, 26 students. Language Club, 13 students. Sudar Dance and Sports club 18 students. 

Quotes: “I was a lonely girl all these days, afraid to participate in discussions and lacked the confidence to speak my mind out. The past week has been very useful for me as the academy has given me the courage to participate in discussions. I hope to learn a lot of things and become a successful entrepreneur.” – Maheshwari (Participant) Aarti Village

On behalf of Women’s Education Project and the students attending the Leadership Academy, we thank you for kind and generous support. We look forward to sharing with you further updates and photographs. 

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Dear WEP Supporters,  

On behalf of WEP, I hope you and your families are doing well during these challenging times.

I particularly wish to thank you for supporting our students and staff. Knowing you care means a great deal to our students – and to all who share the values and efforts of WEP.  

Our inspiring and industrious students, who remain at home, have begun tutoring one another online; forming studying groups; and sharing their crafts and poetry via WhatsApp (see photos).    
 
At the same time, we have been working to safely rollout our revised Academy curriculum. Here is an overview: 
  
1. WEP and WEP-India are in discussions with our partners in Madurai, Hyderabad and Kadapa to ensure that they are complying with our COVID-19 policy to re-open safely and legally, which we hope will occur in late summer - early fall. 

2. Our Partners are working to implement the changes into the Academy curriculum and to have these ready for the students’ return.  Our Directors, Mrs. Esther Subhashini, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi and Mrs. Sandhya Puchalapalli, who have worked tirelessly since 2005, 2007, and 2012 respectively, to develop unique, highly successful programs, are eager and enthusiastic to work with us to launch the revised Academy.  We anticipate an energized restart.

3. WEP's Kadapa partner, the Aarti Home, which, as a home did not close, has already received the revised guidelines and has begun incorporating them into the Academy, providing a perfect opportunity to test the program.  The staff is providing feedback and (as our model requires) is adding local resources, facilitators, teachers, mentors and materials. 

4. Due to the pandemic, we are designing our online version of the Academy.  Our Program Committee has met regularly to develop this effort and assess student feedback. We believe the launch will be in late 2020. 
 
5. A report of WEP's 270 students and alumnae survey to assess their program experience and determine the effectiveness of our 18 years of work, will be published sometime this summer. 

Again, thank you again very much for all of your generous support. I wish you all the best and good health. 

If you have questions, please contact me at ztimms@womenseducationproject.org 

Yours, 

Zoë Timms, (Founder), WEP Students, the WEP and WEP-India Board, Council and Staff 

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Women's Education Project

Location: New York, NY - USA
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Twitter: @womensedproject
Project Leader:
Zoe Timms
New York, NY United States
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