Girls’ Education at GGMS
The girls in Ghassera Government Girl’s Middle School occupy two classrooms in the Ghassera Senior School campus. When we visited, it was filled with activity and life. The school has over 90 girls attending regularly, all of whom looked enthusiastic and eager to learn. They had two fully-furnished classrooms which were decorated with the class’s art. It was a wonderful place for learning, packed with motivated students, taught by passionate teachers.
However, if you wind the clock a few months back, you would see a completely different place. Only 30 girls attended class regularly, and they did not even have a proper classroom to study in. Discipline was poor, with students not wearing uniform, coming to class late and leaving class early.
A New Head-mistress, a New Beginning
It was only when Head-mistress Miss Ish Pahuja joined the school that things began to turn around. Under her leadership, the attendance and learning experience of the girls improved. We had the opportunity to speak with her to find out what changes she put in place and how she went about doing it.
A Day in GMSS
A typical day in GGMS begins with a morning assembly. During assembly, the students engage in a prayer session, sing national songs and do yoga. The girls also discuss the day’s headlines.
In class, subjects such as social science and mathematics are taught. The girls take notes, paying close attention to the teacher. They participate actively when the teacher poses a question and ask their own questions when they are unsure.
In addition to the conventional subjects, the girls are taught vocational skills such as sewing, knitting and other crafts. The girls’ repertoire includes coasters, belts and even fans.
During their break, the girls take part in sports and games such as basketball and kho-kho, running around with bright smiles on their faces.
Changes made by the Head-mistress
The encouraging sight at the school would not have been possible without the head-mistress, who took it upon herself to move the school in the right direction.
Shifting the classes to a better venue
The biggest change initiated by Miss Ish Pahuja was to lobby for an appropriate venue for the girls. Previously, classes were conducted in the GGPS Campus, where all three girls’ classes were squeezed into one room. The room did not even have desks and chairs – the students had to be seated on the floor.
Miss Ish Pahuja shifted to the Senior Secondary School Campus, where she was able to secure two furnished classrooms. The new location has a basketball court nearby in which students can play in. Miss Ish Pahuja said that learning takes place best if the environment allows for it.
Vocational Activities, Sports and Games
Miss Ish Pahuja realized that the reason girls might have been coming in late and leaving early was their lack of interests in the classes. Through the introduction of vocational activities, games and competition, she was able to engage the girls better, and encourage them to come punctually and to stay in class. The girls feel that such activities are more enjoyable and relevant to their lives. By stimulating interest, she was able to improve attendance.
Speaking to the Parents
Upon joining the school, Miss Ish Pahuja made the effort to speak to the parents of the girls in the village. Some of the parents did not see the need to send their children to school. Miss Ish Pahuja had to convince them otherwise. She shared with us that at first, she had difficulty getting the parents to even meet with her.
Nevertheless, she persevered. She told them about the benefits of education, and the fact that the textbooks, uniform and school fees were already paid for by the State Government. Eventually, many of them changed their minds.
Focusing on Discipline
Miss Ish Pahuja saw that discipline was a big problem in the school. As a result, she made it a point to be strict with the students. Students who were not wearing the school uniform were sent home. When speaking to the parents, she also asked for the parent’s help in getting their children to attend school regularly and punctually. She also took steps to discourage the girls from using rough language.
Towards Better Education for Girls
Thanks to Miss Ish Pahuja’s efforts, discipline, attendance and participation in the school have drastically improved. The girls not only learn more, but also enjoy themselves more in the school. They come to school regularly, looking forward to meeting their friends and learning from their teachers.
At the end of the day, Miss Ish Pahuja hopes that the lessons the girls learn in the school will be useful to them in the future.
All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.
With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.