Learning centres have prepared 9497 girls to take on additional challenges.Published: Nov 25, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
In the remotest villages of Bara and Rautahat districts in Madhesh Pradesh, People in Need Nepal works with adolescent girls from ages 10 to 19 to facilitate their access to early education and other life opportunities. Due to rigid social and gender norms and harmful traditional practices, these girls have never been to school, dropped out early, married off before puberty, and become mothers before they turn 15.
Through the Aarambha project funded by UK AID's Girls' Education Challenge, since 2018, PIN Nepal together with its local partners Aasaman Nepal and SODCC, has facilitated 462 community learning centres where for 9 months, girls learn to read and write and receive other life skills training on sexual and reproductive health and rights, personal safety, social skills, basic financial management, and business planning.
Kanti Devi joined one of the learning centres in Bara when she was 18 years old, had already been married for a year, and was providing for a family of six by working for daily wages. After completing her training at the centre, she undertook Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to enhance her skills. Today, after completing a program on starting and improving her own business, she runs her own grocery shop and is glad to be financially independent.
After completing their time at the learning centres, the girls have the choice to continue formal schooling or enrol in TVET to acquire technical or vocational skills. So far, this project has supported 1463 girls like Kanti Devi to run their own businesses.
Manisha was 13 years old when she joined a community learning centre while waiting for gauna, a ceremony that takes place some months after marriage. During that time, she continued living with her parents. She dropped out of school in the fourth grade and got married shortly after. After her time at the learning centre, she re-joined school in the fifth grade and is determined to complete up to the tenth grade and eventually start a business of her own.
These learning centres have prepared 9497 girls to take on additional challenges, especially during times of crisis, like disasters or the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through the Girls and Inclusive Education Network (GIEN), People in Need also conducts Gender Transformative Workshops (GTW) at school-level leadership for school-going girls and boys of sixth to eighth grade standards . PIN has completed GTWs in 24 community schools, reaching 2185 girls and 2019 boys. In the workshops, the boys and girls learn about adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health, safety and security. The students discuss gender-based violence and its mitigation measures along with other harmful social and gender norms, such as child marriage, and dowry systems, among others.
These workshops have supported girls like Sara [name changed], a 16-year-old eighth-grader who learned about child marriage at a workshop conducted at her school. After participating in the workshop, Sara recognised that her parents were about to get her married, and the legalities surrounding child marriage enabled her to convey her concerns to the workshop facilitators and her school teacher, who, in turn, were able to counsel Sara's parents. Now, Sara is still in school, and her parents have agreed to wait until she is at least 20 years old before she is married.
Additionally, through the Aarambha Project, PIN has initiated to form the Girls and Inclusive Education Network (GIEN) in schools and local levels in Bara and Rautahat in Madhesh Province, to promote girls' education and inclusive learning, girls' right to protection and safeguarding, and reducing gender-based violence to in and out of school girls.
According to Pinki Kumari Patel, the gender focal person at a school in Rautahat, GIEN has fostered an environment to promote girls' education and to create an inclusive and gender-friendly environment. Earlier, girls missed school during their menstruation, but now they approach Pinki Kumari for sanitary pads and other issues they face.