Education Gives Suhani the Freedom of Choice

Suhani*, a 12-year-old girl from rural Rajasthan, India, went to school regularly until a few years ago. She struggled with reading and writing and had no support to strengthen her abilities.

Education Gives Suhani the Freedom of Choice
September 01, 2016

Her parents reasoned that since she was not gaining much from school, they would stop sending her. Rather, they thought she should focus on domestic chores like cooking, cleaning, and caring for her siblings.

However, three years later, before the new school year, a local NGO and EAC partner, Educate Girls, conducted door-to-door surveys to identify out of school girls. During a survey in Suhani’s village, Educate Girls’ field staff, Narayan and Manju, found her and some other girls. The staff visited their homes and urged their families to send the girls to school.

Yet Suhani’s initial stint in school had not convinced her parents of the benefits of education. After all, the chores she was doing at home would be the same as those required of her once married!

Undeterred, Narayan and Manju held community meetings to discuss the importance of education and how girls could contribute positively to the community if given an opportunity. It became apparent that the families were uncomfortable with educating their daughters for fear they would “get out of hand and elope”, thereby damaging their marriage prospects.

In response, the eld sta informed the villagers of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), a residential school for girls. “Girls from many adjoining villages would be studying there, the teaching and administration staff would be all-female and, since the teachers were residents, after-class coaching for students could be provided,” asserted Narayan.

Manju took Suhani’s mother and showed her the classrooms, lodging, and playground. She introduced her to the teachers and principal. Finally, Suhani’s parents decided to give their daughter’s education another chance.

Today, Suhani and her sister are in school. Suhani took a bridging course to develop some basic skills and entered into class six. Narayan and Manju visit periodically and conduct life-skills training to cultivate the students’ leadership and decision-making skills.

When asked about her second chance, Suhani says, “I like it here. I understand that it is education and not just housework that I will need in my future. Education is more than just textbooks – it gives me the freedom of choice. I want to study for as long as I can!” 

*To protect the identity of the minor her name has been changed to ‘Suhani’