In many parts of India, the arrival of a baby girl calls for mourning rather than celebration. Abandoning them at birth or marrying them off as children is common practice. Looked upon as huge economic burden, it is hardly surprising that many families in India don't see the point in investing in their girls' education and do not send them to school.
The True Picture
Government of India statistics reveal that only 3 out of 10 girls who enter class 1 complete class 10. While enrolment rates of girls are improving marginally in India, dropout levels remain alarmingly high. At primary school level, over 45% of girls dropout of school and this increases to over 73% by the time the child has reached class 10. Research has shown that reasons for this dropout may be as minor as the girl child not being able to afford a school dress/uniform to go to school and could also include more complex factors like girls taking on the responsibility of household chores at a very young age as a result of gender stereotyping.
Why should women be educated?
Successful education of the girl child has been repeatedly acknowledged as an effective mechanism to break this inter-generational cycle of poverty, social norms, myths and social evils. Research conducted in developing countries has shown that a literate female population is linked to reduction in population growth rates. On the other hand, illiteracy breeds ignorance and fear that only increases her vulnerability to be exposed to lifelong abuse, suppression and exploitation.
This is where we step in
The programme selects girls based on multiple criteria including enrollment in government schools, family income, parents' educational background, social background and the child's aptitude. A comprehensive sponsorship is created to take care of a range of their educational requirements, providing not only academic support that enables them to make a success of their schooling experience but also material support including uniforms, school bags, shoes, socks etc. to enable the girl child to go to school with dignity. The material kit is ceremonially handed over to each child at the beginning of the academic year. Our Nanhi Kalis receive academic support through a 1-2 hour class conducted before or after school hours called the Academic Support Centre, where concepts in Maths, Science and Language are taught to bridge the gaps in learning and enable children to attain grade-specific competency levels. The teaching methodology includes the extensive use of innovative teaching tools and activities such as storytelling, group games, etc. which make learning not only meaningful but also fun. Our team also works closely with parents and the community to sensitize them on gender equity, the importance of education and changes they will witness in Nanhi Kalis with education. This is essentially done to ensure that the Nanhi Kalis do not drop out of school.
"Now we don't forget anything, because our kids can write it down for us"
"There's no more shyness; they make eye contact. They do everything by themselves".
"She can become a doctor, she can become an engineer, she can become a president, she can become a prime minister. And she can become wise". "I see no difference between my boy and my girl".
– say the parents of our Nanhi Kalis.
Who can participate?
Project Nanhi Kali is a participatory project where any individual or corporate can sponsor the education of a disadvantaged girl child at Rs. 3000 a year for a girl studying in primary class 1 - 5 and Rs. 4200 a year for a girl studying in secondary class 6 - 10.
Each Nanhi Kali donor receives a detailed profile of the girl they sponsor along with her photograph and progress report at six month intervals that keeps them updated of the progress of the Nanhi Kali they sponsor.