Field Stories

Educate Girls

Another girl's experience gave Gulab the courage to go back to school!

Gulab* hails from small village in Banswara district. When she was in the sixth grade, she often fell sick and attended school irregularly. Her parents work as labourers and are usually not at home. During the time she spent at home, she took over the responsibility of taking care of her siblings and doing other household chores. Eventually, her parents became dependent on her and asked her to drop-out of school completely. According to her parents, her dropping out was "much better" as her elder sister (who has never been to school) was married-off at an early age which left Gulab as the sole person responsible for taking care of the house and her siblings.​

Gulab was identified as an out-of-school girl during a field survey conducted by Educate Girls. Team Balika Govind Kumar went to home to enquire about her situation. He reasoned with Gulab's parents, who were very indifferent to Govind's efforts. After months of repeated house visits they gave in on the condition that Gulab would do all her household chores before going to school. Team Balika Govind was very happy that Gulab would finally get back into her uniform but was Gulab felt differently.

A child who earlier felt excited to go to school was now disinclined and reluctant. Nobody could understand the reason behind it. Incessant convincing on Govind's part made Gulab reveal the reason behind her unwillingness to go to school. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she confessed, "All my friends are in higher grades and it would be very embarrassing for me to be in a lower Grade. If I join school now, I will be elder to my classmates. The thought of it makes me feel out of place already!"  Govind analysed the situation at hand and came up with a solution. He made her meet Lalita, who was a drop-out just like her and was enrolled by Educate Girls. Lalita shared her experience of being back in school after a long gap and not finding herself out of place. But Gulab was still unsure. So, Lalita asked her to join her at school for a week to lay her doubts to rest. Gulab thought this was feasible and assented. Once she realised she was comfortable, Gulab herself walked up to Govind and asked to be enrolled. This way, in 2018, she was enrolled in Grade 7.

"Gulab tells me everything she learns at school. She has recently learnt the concept of saving money and taught me how to do it. My elder daughter never went to school and she is facing several challenges now. She cannot travel alone and cannot fill up a simple form at the bank to withdraw money. I am happy that Gulab will not have to face these challenges on a day-to-day basis" says Gulab's mother.

*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.

Pratham Education Foundation

From 'Dai ke Goth' to 'Dadi's Khushiyon ki Chabhi'

Geeta Sahu (65 yrs.) & Prayag Sahu (66 yrs.) are two women of Subhiya Mudpar village of Kanker district. When we (Pratham team) approached the people of the village (especially the mothers & grandmothers of the children) to execute 'Dai ke Goth' under 'Hamara Gaon' program to strengthen the listening habits & increase the vocabulary of the children with the help of their own family & community, we never thought that it would result in many more beautiful things other than what was intended. 

When these two Dadis (Geeta & Prayag) came to know about the idea of 'Dai ke Goth', they immediately volunteered for the task of storytelling. From that day, both of them together have been telling stories to the children of the community every day. Listening to their thoughts, it feels as if goddess Saraswati herself is talking through them. They say that this work,which is for the happiness and betterment of the children, helps them to find their own happiness among the happiness of the children and is now a crucial part of their everyday life. Geeta says, "Every night we suffer from the dilemma that which story should we tell the children the next day, the Raja-Rani one or the Sher-Bhalu one. We can’t even sleep without deciding this at night." 

On the other hand, Prayag says, "Before this program, many people in our village did not even know our names, but now not just children but everyone else also know us by the name of 'Geeta Dadi' & 'Prayag Dadi'. Every day in the evening, these children come running to these Grandmothers and sit on their lap to listen to their lovely stories.  Both of them suffers from knee pain due to their old age but they say that this pain goes away when the children come to them and that no other treatment could treat it better. They always thank Pratham for giving them their 'Khushiyon ki Chabhi' (key to happiness) through this program."

VIDYA

Aarti moved to Mumbai from her native place with her parents and siblings. Her father was in search of a job as, the means to earn in the village was very limited. They moved to Powai, where they came to know about VIDYA. Aarti has been in VIDYA for the past 10 years. She has appeared for SSC Board examination in 2018-2019.

In the past one year under the collaboration of VIDYA and NPCI she has undergone many initiatives like career testing and counselling where aptitude and interest testing showed her inclination towards medical field. The collaboration also exposed Aarti places of study like and provided opportunities to excel in digital skills. Such interventions are helping Aarti decide her own future on her own terms, while ensuring her learning does not stop and she has adequate opportunities to explore her potential.

She was also part of the Finishing School wherein she underwent a training for getting ready for college life and the many facets of the same. As VIDYA focuses on developing an individual beyond mere scholastic capacity, life skill sessions are imparted to the youth. One such session has made Aarti a strong advocate of changing society’s attitude towards women.

Many students from marginalized communities have low or nil aspirations and hence such support is critical to ensure first generation learners like Aarti look to the future with hope and confidence rather than darkness and despair.

Learning and Key Observations

One girl from class 10 was married off in the village during the May vacation. Connecting with her and bringing her back was a challenge as the girl was confined to the house and farming. Her education was stopped. It’s a big challenge to address the issue of child marriage in the community as the parents, though they attend the meeting and workshops on these subjects, their buy in is not there always. Rigorous work has to be done in the field of addressing gender biases and also child marriage with the community.

  • "I like coming to VIDYA as we get many platforms to voice our opinions, views and thoughts. Also opportunities to showcase our talent. I thank VIDYA for giving me the opportunity to be part of the group that published the article in 'Torchlight'." - Rajani Thakur – Class 10 student
  • "VIDYA is doing a very good job. It’s interesting to see the focus of the children in spite of their limited resources" - Mr Babu Vaidyanath (individual donor- scholarship)
  • "Our volunteers love teaching VIDYA children" - Vaibhav, IIT (NSS wing incharge)