Giving Girls Wings to Fly: Empowering Girls through EducationPublished: Oct 11, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
Manisha is 13 years old. She starts her day by cooking with her mother. They prepare meals for their family together. Their kitchen is in an outdoor setting made with bamboo and hay. Today, they are cooking fish caught by her younger brothers in a nearby river. Her elder sister is married and as a result Manisha had to take on the household responsibility as she is the second child out of her five siblings. Her father works as a labourer on a daily basis for earning so, their financial situation is not good. It is challenging for her father to support the family with only his earnings.
Manisha dropped out of school while studying in Grade 4. “Most of my friends got married and discontinued their education, so I didn’t feel like going to school. Gradually, I stopped going”, says Manisha. Manisha got married and is waiting for a Gauna. Gauna is a customary ceremony that takes place after several months or years of marriage. Before Gauna, the bride stays at her parents’ house for a specific period of time.
Choosing to continue the education
With the support of Girls’ Education Challenge funded by UK Aid, People in Need started the five-year project Aarambha - Leave No Girl Behind with its local partner Aasaman Nepal in 2018 to improve the life chances of married/out-of-school, adolescent girls aged between 10-19 years, through literacy, numeracy and life skills, and community mobilization for social transformation. Last year, the project was introduced in her village. She learnt about it through a local facilitator whom she has known since her childhood.
Manisha, along with other married/out-of-school girls, joined the class which runs for 9 months at the Community Learning Centre (CLC) in their village. The CLC is operated in Bara and Rautahat district of Province 2 in Nepal. She continued going to CLC and made new friends as well. After completing her 9 months of informal education, she got enrolled in Grade 5. "Though I have to walk for an hour to reach the school, I am a regular student. My friend from CLC also joined the school so we go there together," shares Manish happily. She further adds, "Now, I enjoy going to school. I have friends to play with and I have also understood the importance of education. The environment at the school inspired me to continue my education as well."
Achieving the dream through education
Manisha plans to study till Grade 10 and start a clothing business after the completion of her studies. "The knowledge that I require for the business such as order tracking, billing, stocking, and accounting is only possible through proper education. Education will provide me the wings to fly and achieve my dreams” says Manisha. She realizes and understands the importance of education as she reminisces it into her vision of starting the clothing business.
Within the two years of project intervention, 1,478 girls have successfully enrolled in the schools. Over a period of 5 years, Aarambha project will work with 8,500 out-of-school adolescent girls, 8,500 of their family members, 8,000 in- and out-of-school girls and boys combined, 400 school teachers, 1,134 female community mentors (women-led community network), 400 community youth and other 700 community members, and 300 newly elected local government officials in Bara and Rautahat districts of Nepal.