Educate Girls | Safeena Husain | Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2015
The school was really far. This girl would walk down the mountain, climb up another mountain and every 20 minutes, she would shout back at her mother. And her mother would shout back at her. So that they could hear each other, they knew that she was still on her way and that she was still safe. I used to cry every time I would think of her because she spent an hour plus everyday walking across the mountains to go to school. And it’s just incredible, the sacrifices that the girls are willing to make just for education. Things that we take for granted. India has the highest number of out of school girls anywhere on the planet. It has the highest number of child brides anywhere on the planet. And it has the highest number of women and girls in sexual and other forms of slavery. We live in a time where a goat is an asset, and a girl is a liability. The government wants 100 percent of all children, whether boys or girls, to get educated. But the desired results are not being achieved. In Rajasthan, it is a widespread belief that girls are the Goddesses of the household, hence their place is at home and not outside. It is also the general practice that girls are not given any education, whereas boys are sent to school and are educated. Greetings. I am from Educate Girls, I volunteer for Team Balika. I am trying to sort the problem by first focussing on critical gender gap areas. Rural, tribal remote areas, but the indicators for the girl child are the worst. And finding every single girl in those villages who’s out of school. Making sure that every single of those girls is enrolled back. Since we are from Educate Girls movement, the headmaster has told us that your three girls are dropouts. The main way we do this is through our community volunteer called Team Balika. They are young, they are educated, they are passionate, they really want to see a change. They are actually building an army of champions for girl education. And because the entire issue of gender is up here, that’s the best long term way to counter it. Before I was in school, I used to work at home. I have always wanted to study in a school, and now I am learning to read and write. All kinds of opportunities are available here. The model is a public-private partnership model because to get at a really large scale, you have to work with the Government, and it leverages a lot of underutilised resources working with parents through school management committees, teacher training, doing community mobilisation, through village meetings. If there is a school nearby enrol them there. There should not be any illiterate girls left in the village. The thing I liked most about Educate Girls is that they are working with us at the ground level, and are helping us solve the problems that we face in educating girls. What is four multiplied by two? Eight. So let’s start from the top. So now we are focussing on improving the learning outcomes and improving the quality. I am actually very optimistic because I feel that today is the time for this issue. If it was like a 20 years ago, I would have to first convince them about the importance of girls education, but right now, the dialog is building up. It’s a huge momentum building up. In it’s first district, Educate girls enrolled more than 55,000 girls and reduced girls dropout rate by 93%. By 2018, Educate Girls aims to reach more than half of India’s gender gap districts, nearly 4 million students. I want to study and serve my nation. I want to become a Chief Minister or a Prime Minister. I am a Girl. I want to become a teacher to other girls. I want to encourage girls from my village to study and be successful. Not one girl has said to me, that I don’t want an education, I want to sit at home and I want to look after the cattle. Every single girl, I meet, wants to go to school. And that for me, is my biggest, biggest source of hope.