Educational Support Program
With this long term experience and presence in the community, we are increasingly realising the relevance of supporting girls' education to create a pool of educated women citizens who can serve as role models for their of the families, community and the nation. 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 can never 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 mobiliser 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.
1. Fellowship Program for Young Women
Jagori Rural has put in place a fellowship award programme 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 school or intermediate. However, they have a strong desire to study further. Some of girls are being forced to get marry at early age without taking care of their own choices and aspirations. After marriage they never get chance to pursue their education and get any exposure.
During last 10 years, 30 young girls were awarded fellowship and all of them are from socially and economically marginalized families of Kangra district 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 feminist 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 enhanced self confidence and enhanced self awareness among young girls and at the same time they have been able to challenge the socio cultural subordination of women in their personal as well as in the lives of women they work with. About 50% fellowship awardees have been successfully delayed the age of their marriages.
2. Economic and Education Support to deserving Students
In the last ten years our contact with communities has deepened. In this process we came across children who suffer from neglect and familial conflict or abuse. There are number of children who are from homes of single parents with no earning capacity of the mother. Some of the orphan children live with their old grandparents where neither of them has any earning capacity. 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 scholarship to 15 children per year from very poor background. The team keeps regular contact with these children and with their families/guardians. These scholarships were provided by some of our well wishes.
The numbers of children who require such support are large in number and our team has identified nearly 50 such children. This is highly appreciated by parents as well as teachers as it helps the school to show improvement in the performance of children and parents feel pride if their children do well. We strongly believe that it is an essential service for the children from marginalised communities.
3. Himalayan Daughters Rise for Education
JRCT has recently started a new initiative “Himalayan Daughters Rise for Education”. Under this Programme 108 girls – auspicious number in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and connected to practices of yoga and dharma (as advised by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a well known Buddhist Nun in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh) – will be provided financial means to enable them to continue their education.Implementation will include the identification of a first group of 20 girls meeting the below mentioned selection criteria, and the setting up of a monitoring committee. In the first phase of one-year the programme aims to support 20 girls from 10 different schools belonging to the two districts: Kangra and Chamba.
Each girls' academic performance will be 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 but 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 JRCT – Sahelis. They serve not only as mentors but also role models for the girls. Every six-month meetings will be held, bringing some of the girls together and developing a sense of coherence among the scholarship holders. Due to the holistic approach of the programme girls are not only provided financial means to continue their education but they will be involved in JRCT's activities such as gender campaigns giving them life-skills and an opportunity to become self confident, self assertive and aware of gender equality issues.