Lokmitra has been working in rural area with out of school girls, generally adolescents, for their empowerment and mainstreaming in government schools. This initiative that started way back in 2000 has grown over the years and become quite effective, even though effort has been mainly through non residential centers (short duration camps and exposure visits). In recent years Lokmitra has anually provided education to about 500 such girls who have been manily from SC and Muslim community. Evaluation by SANDHAN has found this activity quite effective.

In year 08-09 Lokmitra successfullly initiated its work with out of school children in slums of Lucknow City. Most of tham have been migrant girls & boys (from Assam) from minority community. They though they were engaged as rag pickers, many of them could (about 300 children out of 1,000) have got mainstreamed.

Following Two Case Studies highlights the kind of changes girls are undergoing.

Sulochan’s drive from dropout to a ‘Village Leader’ In July 2009 the program of educating adolescent girls’ was started at the center in village Nathaipur (Bela Bhela, Rahi Block). The center has 20 girls and Sulochan is just one of them. Now she is over 18. She is fond of studies.  Sulochan’s father is late Prem Shanker and mother is late Smt. Bindeshwari. Sulochan has 3 sisters and 1 brother. Brother and elder sister are married. Her parents died when Sulochan was about 5-6 years. Her brother and others in the family brought up Sulochan. Sulochan’s father was a carpenter. Her brother works as a carpenter as well as a farmer.

The reason for Sulochan’s giving up studies was the death of her parents as a result of which the family became financially weak. After somehow completing class V, she stopped going to the school. At that time she was 11. Despite leaving the school, Sulochan has kept her interest in studies alive.

Sulochan was over joyed to join the center as she had got the opportunity to study again. She encouraged other girls’ of the village to join the center to complete their further studies. Due to regular attendance at the school she has learnt to read and write better. Whenever a meeting of the parents and girls’ committee is held, she goes out to invite them. She is enthusiastic about engaging neighborhood children in songs and games related to studies. Since her own life is full of struggle she likes to read the stories of women who struggled in their lives. Inspired as she was by the people at the center, she talked to her brother and sister-in-law.

Although her sister-in-law is not agreeable, she is ready to take up further studies. She wants to help the rest of the girls in the village after she is empowered herself by studies. She has now decided to get herself enrolled in class VIII for further studies. The entire village calls her Neta (Leader). Other girls of the center go by her advice and take her help to be able to regularly attend it. Therefore she likes her leadership role. A tinge of smile always remains on her face. She has a dream to become a teacher one day for which she is constantly active.

Sadhana ensured that her early marriage got postponed. Sadhana is studies in in village Dubahan Center (Mohanganj, Salon Block) along with 20 adolescent girls. Sadhana is 16 years old and has deep interest in studies and music. On completion of class V Sadhana took to domestic chores. Just after Sadhana has taken class V exams, her father Amrit Lal Verma went missing for about 15 days. During this period the family suffered a lot and they were from hand to mouth, as a result of which she had to give up studies. When the center was established in the village, she joined it and regularly attended.

Sadhana’s family has 8 persons. Her mother is Smt. Sumitra Devi. Sadhana is the eldest of all siblings. Her two brothers and two sisters are aged between 6-12 years. Her younger sister studies in class III and brother studies in class I, another brother is less than 6 years age. Living in the company of grand parents, brother, sisters and parents and attending to domestic work, she goes to the center and prepares for her future.

Sadhana’s new problem started when her grandfather decided to give her in marriage to Ramesh Verma (aged 22) of Ramkheri Purwa. Sadhana felt she was too young to be the wife. She wanted to pursue her studies, but her family elders would not heed it. She talked about her problem to Sunita, the centre teacher. Sunita called a meeting at the center, where she read out ‘Priti ki Kahani’ from the Adolescence Life Education Package and told Sadhana’s grand parents the example of Priti. After a bit of sincere persuasion they agreed to put off the marriage. Sadhana was happy now and became very regular in attendance at the center. Sadhana now thinks that all the girls at her age should study and gain strength. She encourages the girls enrolled with the center to make the best use of the facility and helps them in taking part in the activities.

Click to download Note on Adolescent Girls Education