Sureeli, a 12-year-old girl from a village in Sirohi district of Rajasthan, had never been to school. Her life was all about household chores including cooking, cleaning, fetching water, rearing cattle and looking after her siblings; destined to get married in her near future. Sureeli’s brother on the other hand studied till Class 8 and is working. Sadly, this is the plight of around 3 million out-of-school girls in India.
The NGO, Educate Girls, is working to ensure that out-of-school girls in rural India get an equal chance at receiving a quality education by working with communities and government schools to increase enrolment and retention of girls and improve learning outcomes for all children.
Today, thanks to Educate Girls, Sureeli and 120,000 girls just like her have been brought into school and now have an opportunity to aspire for a better tomorrow.
However, there are many more girls who still have to be reached and more often than not, they don’t know what they are missing out on, because no one they know understands the importance of Education.
When some Educate Girls’ volunteers asked a 10-year old out-of-school girl what she would like to be in the future if she got a chance to study, at first she fell silent. After a long while she answered, “No one has ever asked me this question before. So I don’t know what to say.”
Contrastingly, when they asked a girl in school the same question she said “I want to join the army in the future. I was very shocked when my teacher told me that girls can be soldiers too. I thought only boys could join the army!”
“In all these years of working in the marginalised areas of India, not one girl has said to me that I don’t want an education. Every single girl I meet wants to go to school. This for us is our greatest source of hope and the reason we are motivated to keep working towards getting more girls into schools and improve learning quality in classrooms.” says Educate Girls’ Founder and Executive Director, Safeena Husain.
Drawing inspiration from numerous experiences like Sureeli’s, Educate Girls has designed some powerful posters to represent the aspirations that every girl can have – An investment banker, surgeon, politician, coder, musician…. the sky is the limit for what girls can do if allowed to take the first basic step – getting an education. By restricting our girls, we are not only holding them back, but also keeping our entire nation bereft of the impact that can be created from their contributions towards development. Educated girls contribute to the development of self, family, community and the nation.
This National Day of the Girl Child, let’s get inspired by the possibilities visible in these pictures, challenge the stereotypes and mind-sets that keep girls out of school, and pledge to end gender disparity in education.
Story originally published on The Better India