Many believe that Indian Dalit girls are very supressed. And they are. Most of them. However, recently I just met 100 girls that prove everything else! They are really «leaning in» (Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook expression).
But a few months back they were everything else than “leaning in”. They were all marginalized, modest and according to their culture, not being allowed to making «noise» and some even not to go out of the house. And they had never been to school, even in the age of 10-14 years old.
Then they were selected to join this school programme run by Care and partners. And what a difference.
A group of Board members ans National Directors from some Care offices around the world, went to Uttar Pradesh, all up north towards the boarder of Nepal, three hours drive north of Luknow, the state capital. Headmaster introduced us to the school, its philosophy and principles. We are hearing all these words we wouldn´t believe we would hear: “We celebrate that we all are unique, we want to strengthen the girl´s personality, we want them to have fun while learning, with the activity based pedagogy we want them to be involved and active and arouse the child´s curiosity, we teach them self awareness, social inclusion and social leadership .” Too good to be true? Nope! Not here.
The philosophy and pedagogic is very special and particular. Teachers have been trained to involve and educate according to this curriculum and philosophy.
The girls live at the school. They have education 7,5 hours every day, 6 days a week. In 11 months – yes, 11 months (!) – they have learned enough to pas exam for 5th grade all of them (95% pass). Then they can enrol in 6th grade in regular schools. Half of them will graduate 10th grade. And mind you, this is girls that did not go to school at all in the first place!
And not only do they learn to read and write, but we could observe with our own eyes and ears that it was so much more than theoretical learning going on. It was true GirlPower! And we also met some alumnies. They were real resources in their communities. Strong, proud and with all kind of desire to make a difference!
Every year 100 girls are enrolled in this school. Care India runs 8 such schools in India. That´s 800 girls per year. Since 1999 2.500 empowered girls has been enrolled. But perhaps even a greater achievement is that Care India through this kind of schools has been able to use demonstrate the effectiveness of this pedagogy and methodology for the national and state governments. And thereby there are now 764.000 girls in Uttar Pradesh and 100.000 out of school children reached in Bihar through government run centres. Recently they are “exporting” this wonderful teaching to Nepal, as they have now trained teachers there.
We may need a doze of some of this in Norway also? Wonder when will they will reach Norway?