SEATTLE — The World Bank has publicly stated that there is no more effective way to combat extreme poverty than to educate girls. However, in many countries, especially India, this is an oft-neglected topic; in fact, only 65.46 percent of women in India can read, compared to 79.7 percent of women worldwide. Thankfully, these five groups are making important progress in the fight for equality and ending poverty.
Project Nanhi Kali was founded by Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., in 1996, and targets girls from underprivileged backgrounds. The rationale behind the project is that if these girls are more educated, they could increase economic growth, are more likely to have fewer children, be in better health and live longer.
Besides providing access to academics, they also ensure the girls get adequate financial and emotional support to curb the high dropout rates after joining the school. The project was designed as a sponsorship system so people could contribute to society in a focused and effective way. For just $51 a year, a donor can sponsor a child through her whole primary school career, and for $70, her whole secondary school career.
This government initiative is based in Rajasthan, where girls’ education attainment rates are dismally low. It started as a small-scale initiative and later evolved into a larger-scale, wider-reaching program. The project involves replacing absentee teachers with local educators from the same community as the children they teach.
There is also a heavy emphasis on teachers being qualified to teach primary school children and embracing the role of a social worker to holistically support the children. The organization aims to increase female enrollment with courtyard schools, where a locally-sourced female teacher would teach girls between the ages of 6 and 14 in her neighborhood. This endeavor has been successful in increasing the number of girls who attend primary school.
A leading organization in the fight for the right to girls’ education in India, CARE is particularly passionate about helping girls from marginalized backgrounds have a better future. It was involved in Khushi: Early Childhood Care and Education, a government initiative to provide holistic support for students entering the preschool stage, between the formative years of 0-6 years of age.
It focuses on girls from low caste communities, such as the Dalits and Adivasis, by providing emotional, pastoral and language support to the vulnerable children. Another program that promotes girls’ education in India is Udaan, which allows girls between 11 and 14 years of age to continue learning even though they are not formally enrolled in school.
Meaning “youth” in Hindi, this organization promoting girls’ education in India was founded in 2009 by American Franz Gastler. Originally started as a soccer program to challenge the unequal status of girls in Jharkhand, it was expanded to include the Yuwa school in 2015.
There, girls aged 6 to 18 years old are educated in English and are surrounded by dedicated educators and volunteers from the world over. The school welcomes donations to expand its facilities to ensure more girls can experience the low-cost, all-girls education in English.
Indian Girls Code
Science, technology, engineering and math education is increasingly becoming the driving force of burgeoning economies today, but the percentage of girls studying these subjects is disproportionally low. Launched by Deepti Rao Suchindran, a neuroscientist, and her sister Aditi Prasad, the Indian Girls Code began as a free, direct introduction to coding and robotics. The sisters have expanded the program to an ashram in Tiruchi, where they teach underprivileged girls how to use hands-on tools such as Scratch.
These five groups advocating for girls’ education in India are changing lives, enriching India and the globe’s economy and encouraging female empowerment across the world.
– Maneesha Khalae