Educational Support Program
1. Fellowship Program for Young Women
Jagori Rural has put in place a fellowship award program for young rural girls. The fellowship is meant for girls from poor and marginalized communities. Due to family pressure and limited financial resources, most of girls stop their education after they finish their grade or intermediate school. Often, they have a strong desire to study further. Some of girls are forced to get marry at early age without any concern for their own choices and aspirations. After marriage they do not get chance to pursue their education and get any exposure.
To help girls in these scenarios, we have created a fellowship program. During last 10 years, 30 young girls were awarded fellowships. All of them are from socially and economically marginalized families of Himachal Pradesh. 10 girls have done their graduation and others have completed their senior secondary education. Most of these young girls are working with Jagori Rural and engaged effectively in community mobilization process and awareness campaign. As activists, all of them have become more aware of gender discrimination issues and have incorporated gender justice perspective into their daily work with Jagori Rural.
The fellowship model has caused enhanced self-confidence and self-awareness among young girls. At the same time, they have been able to challenge the subordination of women in their personal as well as in the lives of women they work with.
2. Economic and Education Support to deserving Students
In the last ten years our contact with the communities we work with has deepened. In this process we have often come across children who are neglected or abused. There are number of children who come from homes of single parents with mothers that have no capacity for earning. Some of the orphan children live with their old grandparents without any income.
In the last few years we have helped nearly 50 such children by distributing books, shoes, school books and stationary free of cost. In the last 4-5 years, we have also provided monthly scholarships to 15 children per year from very poor background. The team keeps regular contact with these children and with their families/guardians.
There are many more children who still need economic support. We strongly believe that it is an essential service for the children from marginalized communities.
3. Himalayan Daughters Rise for Education
We have recently started a new initiative called “Himalayan Daughters Rise for Education.” Under this program, 108 are being provided financial aid to enable them to continue their education.
Each girls' academic performance is assessed (report of tests and exams). The team will also keep regular contact with selected scholarship girls. In this context, it is important to note that the provision of a scholarship is not necessarily based on outstanding performance. The scholarship holders are assessed on a variety of criteria. Both for capacity building and monitoring purposes, the girls will be mentored by experienced team members of Jagori Grameen. They serve, not only as mentors, but also role models for the girls. Every six months, meetings are held, bringing some of the girls together and developing a sense of coherence among the scholarship holders. Due to the holistic approach of the program, girls are not only provided financial means to continue their education but they will be involved in Jagori Grameen’s activities such as gender campaigns to help give them life-skills and an opportunity to become self-confident, self-assertive and aware of gender equality issues.
Some of the following quotes from the fellowship awardees succinctly elaborate the impact of such education and support:
Asha, one of the fellows: "My dream was to become a doctor but I always knew that the economic situation of my family could never allow me to fulfill this dream. After 10th standard I had to drop out of school and support my mother with both work at home as well as at her work place. I managed to pass the high school exam and with support of Jagori was able to get a university diploma in “Women, Development and Empowerment."
Today, I am pursuing my Bachelor degree in Social Work. I am also the leader of the women's health team of Jagori. Jagori changed my life. Without Jagori I would now be married and have three children. Instead of being forced to follow these traditional societal practices, Jagori enabled me to take my own decision and made me a strong and respected human being. Today people from the community, my neighbors and relatives all come to me to ask for advice. I actively help them to solve their issues. I am happy because today I am able to give back to others, both at home and in Jagori, what I have received by joining and getting the support of Jagori."
Babli: "I come from a region where girls are not sent out of the house to study. The maximum education a girl can get is till 5th grade. Girls only do work in the house or look after the animals. I was in a youth group run by Jagori team members where I learned many things. The Jagori team talked to the family but there was still an issue of money. First, I joined as a youth mobilizer and got a small stipend from Jagori. I joined a computer course provided by Jagori. At first, my family had a problem with me going to Jagori because it was considered unsafe but later I gained confidence and came to the office by myself. After completion of the course, by providing me with a fellowship, Jagori made it possible for me to continue my education further. Earlier, I had low confidence in myself. Now, I am running and mentoring seven adolescent girls' collectives and two youth, girls and boys, collectives. Jagori made my dream of studying come true and helped me to widen my horizon. This has build up my confidence and belief that I can do whatever I want and dream of."
The success of the Educational support programme has provided Jagori Rural (JRCT) the impetus to expand its programme of providing support to girls for their educational aspiration.