“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
This quote summarises very well the situation happening in especially in the district of Mewat today where male education is favoured over female education. Literacy rate currently stands at 56.1%, with male literacy at 73%, and female literacy at a mere 37.6%, further reinforcing the statement above. In order to boost female literacy, SRF Foundation in collaboration with CARE India has launched Udaan, an 11 month stayin program targeting at accelerated learning of primary school education for girls aged 11 to 14. Essentially, this is a crash course where 5 years of education is crammed into a concise 11 months covering subjects like Hindi, Math, EVS, Urdu and Quran while providing the children with lodging, food, medical aid, and facilities like the library and computers. After which, these girls will be enrolled into regular schools, and into their age appropriate classes.
Yet, this program is not without its problems. Imagine a family suddenly separated because of a program which an authority says will be good for the family, how would the parent or the child feel? Parents are not used to sending their children for education, much less one which requires staying-in. As a result, most parents are unwilling to send their daughters to Udaan, or if they do, they would want to pull their child out of the program after just a few days. The girls are reluctant to stay in this program, quickly becoming homesick and requesting to leave. Every month, the child makes a trip home for a day and is supposed to return the next day. However, many of the children leave and do not return, or return only a few days after, causing them to lag behind in their syllabus. The list goes on as this program attempts to overcome such problems in order to leave an impact in these children’s lives.
This program has been running since 24th November 2011 and is in its 6th month of operation when we made our first visit to the school where Udaan is conducted, located in Nuh, District Mewat, Haryana. Here, the shy but curious bunch of girls who were keen to make friends greeted us warmly! Coming from Singapore, this experience was entirely new to us and we were overwhelmed by the warmth they displayed! They were so welcoming that we felt at ease interacting with them despite facing language barriers
Through the girls, we could see the positive changes which education has made upon them. For instance, they were better able to express their ideas, started to have ambitions of their own, and most importantly, they have matured. They possess the virtues of discipline and respect which I do not see in many other children of similar ages; have the bond and closeness of a group which is essential in learning within a class because they will be able to help one another.
In spite of the numerous challenges faced in holding this program, we are delighted to witness how our program has helped the girls towards a path of brighter future. As we were told, “Alone, you may move fast. But working together will bring your further.” Work with us and support our efforts and we trod forward to improve the lives of these children in Mewat.
To collaborate with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The 12th edition of Mewat Mondays is brought to you by our interns, Joan, Lyndon and Galvin, who believe that girls deserve an education as much as any other child. As part of their field research, they will be spending time in the 19 villages, and will gladly share pictures and anecdotes from these experiences. They can be reached at Joan.ng@srflimited. com , Lyndon.Lingbaoan@srf-limited.com and Galvin.Tay@srf-limited.com respectively.