Education  India Project #38828

Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !

by Foundation to Educate Girls Globally
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Support 9500 Girls in Rural India Go To School !
Geeta (left) with her sister Tulsi
Geeta (left) with her sister Tulsi

With the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting many regions in the country, rural communities across India are struggling to survive through these challenging times. As girls continue to be the worst affected, the pandemic has also reinstated and forged significant barriers to girls’ education such as extreme poverty and patriarchy leading to a higher likelihood of girls dropping out from school. Therefore, Educate Girls conducts door-to-door contact to reach out to families of out-of-school girls and ensure that they are ready to enroll and attend school once it reopens. 

Geeta's story is a shining example of the impact of Educate Girls' persistent efforts across rural and marginalized communities that has catalyzed a significant and long-term change across communities. 

In a quaint village of Rajsamand district in Rajasthan state of India, lives a farmer named Sohan with his wife and two daughters, Tulsi and Geeta. Adhering to the prevailing practice in his community, Sohan did not send both his daughters to school, considering it a waste to invest time or resources in their education. 

During a village survey, Educate Girls' team identified Geeta and her elder sister Tulsi as out-of-school girls. However, despite multiple house visits and continued efforts to counsel Sohan, he still remained reluctant to send his daughters to school. 

One day, Sohan attended a community mobilization meeting conducted by Educate Girls' field coordinator. In the meeting, the community members and school teachers discussed about the benefits of enrolling girls in a Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) - a government-run free residential school for girls in grades 6th to 8th. Sohan carefully listened to the discussion and after giving it some serious thought, he agreed to send Geeta to a KGBV and allowed Tulsi to continue with her studies at home. 

Finally, Geeta was enrolled at a KGBV in 2014 and resumed her education!

Geeta participated in all activities at school, especially Bal Sabha (i.e. Girls' Council to enhance life skills and leadership) and was associated with the Council till grade 8. Post that, Geeta continued with her studies by shifting to a government sponsored girls hostel with the help of Educate Girls' field coordinator and completed her schooling.

In the meantime, Geeta's elder sister Tulsi completed her studies and joined Educate Girls as a Team Balika (community volunteer). In her role as a Team Balika, Tulsi ensured that maximum girls in her village stay in school and continue to learn well. When Tulsi got married and dropped out as Team Balika, Geeta stepped into her shoes and took on the responsibility of promoting girls’ education in their community.

Through Geeta's tremendous efforts, she has been able to enrol many girls in school in her village. 


"I know how it feels to be deprived of education because of regressive mindset and family circumstances. I was fortunate enough to get the required support from Educate Girls' team enabling me to complete my studies. Therefore, now I would like to do my part by working passionately towards changing mindsets for girls' education in our community. I am extremely thankful to Educate Girls for empowering me to do everything in the best of my capacity to bridge the gap between girls and education in my village," shared Geeta.



Scaling from a 500 school pilot in 2007, Educate Girls' program has expanded to 29,000+ schools in 18,000+ villages across 22 educationally backward districts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in India. With the help of a network of 14,000+ village based volunteers, Educate Girls has successfully enrolled 800,000+ out-of-school girls since inception and improved learning outcomes for over 1.3 million children through its learning curriculum. Over 11 million children are the beneficiaries of improved school governance & infrastructure.

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Pihu outside her house in Alirajpur
Pihu outside her house in Alirajpur

Pihu* belongs to a remote and tribal village in the Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. Her village lacks employment opportunities, forcing its residents to migrate to neighbouring cities in search of menial labour work. The remaining fend for themselves through farming.

Pihu lived in this village until the age of ten, but her parents decided to migrate to the city as they found it challenging to get by on their meagre income. Pihu had just appeared for her final examinations but had to bid adiue to school. Her daily routine in the city now included taking care of her younger siblings or doing household chores. It remained the same for two years, and her education stopped until March of 2020 when uncertainty loomed over her family and many others like them.

COVID-19 hit the entire world at large and many people lost their jobs. The most vulnerable communities faced the largest brunt of the lockdown that followed, and many migrant labourers who were daily- wage workers in the cities were forced to go back to their villages - and that too on foot. Pihu's family was among them as well. They were disoriented when they first reached, but the community extended warm support to them.

In the next few months, they settled in and the pandemic situation improved and the was lockdown lifted slowly. Educate Girls began their mission of enabling and enrolling girls with door-to-door contact. During this time, Educate Girls’ Block Officer came across Pihu as an out-of-school girl and spoke to her parents with support from Educate Girls’ Team Balika (community-based volunteer). He realized the difficulties they had to go through during the lockdown and tried explaining to them the role of education and how it could help during testing times. However, they were still not convinced.

“We already face a lot of trouble surviving and sending Pihu to school would mean additional tension and financial burden. And when COVID is gone, we would again migrate to the city and then who would look after her here? We would again have to drop her out from school - why to go through all the fuss then?” asserted Pihu’s father. 

Understanding their concern, Educate Girls' Block Officer told her parents about Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) – a Government-run free residential school for girls in Grades 6th-8th. The KGBV has a library, a computer lab, and promotes better learning. It nurtures numerous hobbies, sports skills and provides extra lessons on health and hygiene. Overall, it creates a safe environment where every girl flourishes to the best of her potential. He emphasized how these experiences will shape a brighter future for Pihu, and she will also bring her family out of poverty.

Listening to his conviction for Pihu’s bright future, her parents understood the benefits and opportunity in enrolling their daughter in school and relented. Finally, little Pihu was enrolled and will again take the path of education!

*Name changed to protect the identity of a minor

 

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Pooja outside her home in Barwani
Pooja outside her home in Barwani

12-year-old Pooja* lives with her parents in the Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh and has two elder sisters who are married. Her father owns a farm and a grocery store.

As her school was at a distance in the village, her father allowed her to go to school with their neighbor's children. She went to school with them everyday and loved it, however, her good days were numbered. Her school only held classes till the 5th Grade and as all the children in the neighborhood graduated to the 6th Grade, her father was reluctant to send her to school by herself even though the school was in the same village. As she completed the 3rd Grade, he asked Pooja to sit back at home and help her mother with the household chores. 

Educate Girls' Field Coordinator Pramita met Pooja's family during a field survey. After she got to know that Pooja was a drop-out, Pramita tried to convince Pooja's family. But her efforts were in vain as Pooja's father stood firm on his decision of not letting his daughter go to school alone. He further told Pratima that there is no point in sending Pooja to school as they plan to get her married within a few years. Hearing this, Pramita felt helpless as she was completely against child marriage and had been trying her best to move the community against it. As she did not wish this fate for any girl in her village, it gave her strength to not give up.

Meanwhile, Pooja's elder sister spoke to Pramita and urged her to help Pooja go to school as she didn't want her sister's life to become like hers. She wanted a better and brighter future for Pooja. After hearing her sister's appeal, Pramita was even more persistent to enrol Pooja back in school.

Pramita organized a community meeting where she addressed the village head and the community on the importance of girls' education to get them on board before she convinced Pooja's father. The entire village then spoke in favor of sending Pooja to school and her father had no choice but to relent and agreed to get her enrolled.

Pramita was happy to have been able to successfully help Pooja go back to school again with immense support from the school teacher. Her mother also agreed to manage the chores in the morning so that Pooja could attend school. Pooja now studies in the 4th Grade and loves to attend school. She comes back home and helps her mother with the chores before she sits to study and do her homework for the day.

"I want to study and work like Pramita didi. She changed my life by sending me to school again. I want to help girls like myself to study, motivate them to go to school, and change their life for the better!", Pooja shares with a smile.

 

*name changed to protect the identity of the minor

Pooja studies at home in her village in Barwani
Pooja studies at home in her village in Barwani

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Asha, beneficiary
Asha, beneficiary

These days, 12-year old Asha* can be seen playing with her friends in the corridors of her school. However, a few months ago it seemed impossible for her to ever go back to school again.

Eldest of five children, Asha was entrusted with the job to look after all her siblings since both her parents went to work. After identifying Asha as an out-of-school girl during a field survey, Om from Educate Girls’ team went to speak to her parents to enrol her back in school. Her mother did not even entertain the idea of sending her to school and refused to discuss it further. But Om was relentless and did not give up. When he went to her house again, Asha’s mother sat him down and told him that sending girls to school was against her family’s tradition –that girls must learn how to do household chores and get married. Hearing this, Om gave examples of several girls from the village who are happily enroled in school. He also told her that education is free and the benefits it would bring are priceless. To motivate Asha into going to school, he made her speak to other school-going girls, who shared their experiences.

Little Asha made up her mind to go to school, but her mother was still not convinced. Om then decided to take help from the school headmaster and the school teacher, who happily agreed to come and speak to her mother. Asha also did not have an Aadhar Card (Government ID) and when Om volunteered to get the necessary documentation done, her parents refused. However, after constant pleas, they agreed and Asha’s Aadhar Card was made and she was enrolled in school!

However, her happiness was short-lived. Asha went to school regularly only for a month. After a week’s absence, her teacher started worrying and informed Om. When he visited her home to enquire about the situation, Asha’s mother was adamant about not letting her go to school. Om felt helpless and did not know how to react and requested the village head to help him convince Asha’s mother.

It took more than a few visits on Om and the village head’s part to convince Asha’s mother to enrol Asha in school. They spoke to her at length about the benefits of education, addressed all her concerns, and explained how delaying the necessary would only make Asha lag behind her peers. They suggested that going to school was just a matter of a few hours and Asha could help with the chores after school. Her mother finally relented and agreed to send her back to school. Since then Asha has been going to school regularly and is now in Grade 4!

Asha still helps her mother with the household chores and balances well between her studies and her duties t home. Now that she goes to school, she tells her family about nutrition, basic health and hygiene that should be maintained at home.

 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor

Asha Taking Care of the Household Chores
Asha Taking Care of the Household Chores
Asha Learning the Hindi Alphabet in Class
Asha Learning the Hindi Alphabet in Class

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Rama, beneficiary
Rama, beneficiary

A native of Udaipur district in Rajasthan, thirteen year old Rama's*, life was limited to doing household chores and selling the fruits she picked. She has two elder sisters, who are married, and a younger brother, who dropped out after the 7th Grade. Her father works as a daily wage labourer and hence feeding his family with this meager income proves very difficult for him. Everyone works hard in the family to contribute some money.

Rama always wanted to go to school, but her family’s financial constraints, as well as her father's outlook, never supported her dream. Her father believed that only boys should study while girls should work at home, and that's the reason why he sent his son to study in the school in their village but always held his daughters back. 

Educate Girls’ community volunteer (called Team Balika) Mukesh visited Rama's house after identifying her as an out-of-school girl during the field survey. However, Rama’s father was adamant to not change his decision. Mukesh called the parents to a Mohalla Meeting (community meeting) and told Rama's father about the benefits of going to school, the government schemes existing to support girls' education and how going to school can brighten up her future. With persistent discussion and convincing, her father fianlly relented and agreed to send Rama to school.

Rama now studies in Grade 2 and has already learned how to write her name in Hindi, the alphabets in English and basic mathematical calculations. She is a smart child, who was never given an opportunity to study. Now, she never misses a day in school because she loves learning new things!

"Rama is a very brilliant child, she grasps everything being taught in class very quickly. She is always eager to learn new things and actively participates in extra-curricular activities. A lot of other children feel motivated seeing her enthusiasm to come to school and have started attending school regularly," shared Ramesh, her school teacher.

Rama now helps her mother calculate her earnings from selling fruits. “I love studying maths. I even know how to calculate money so nobody can cheat me or my mother. Earlier, she used to take whatever amount was being paid to her, but that’s not the case anymore. My mother even gave me pocket money for helping her and now I will buy a school bag with it!” she happily shared.

Rama still goes to pick fruits but makes sure that she doesn’t miss even a day of school.

 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.

Rama Picking Fruits
Rama Picking Fruits
Rame Learning in Class with Educate Girls' GKP kit
Rame Learning in Class with Educate Girls' GKP kit
Rama with her Friends in School
Rama with her Friends in School

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Organization Information

Foundation to Educate Girls Globally

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @educate_girls
Foundation to Educate Girls Globally
Husain Safeena
Project Leader:
Husain Safeena
Mumbai, Maharashtra India

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