Riya* hails from a small village in the Banswara district of Rajasthan, India where education for girls is often considered a waste of time. However, she had gone to school previously for a time, because her three older sisters, who took care of household chores, instead of getting an education. Riya also has an older brother who goes to school regularly.
Everything changed when the last of Riya’s sisters was married off and there was no one to look after the house. Her parents decided to make her drop out of school, so that she could focus entirely on household chores and work on the farm. Seeing this happen, Riya’s school teacher tried speaking with her parents, but they were adamant that they had made the right decision. All the while, Riya could only dream of going back to school some day, especially when she chanced to look at her brother’s books. However, there seemed little she could do about her predicament.
Then one day, an Educate Girls’ Field Coordinator, Prakash, as part of a joint initiative with Educate A Child (EAC), a global programme of the Education Above All Foundation (EAA), went to speak to Riya’s parents, after she had been identified as an out of school child during a door-to-door mapping survey. Her parents repeated their claims about the importance of keeping her home for house work and refused to enrol Riya. Undeterred, Prakash kept visiting, discussing the value of education for girls. During one particular home visitation, Riya, mustering all her courage, made an impassioned plea to her parents to let her go back to school. At that point, her parents finally relented and she was enrolled in class 3!
Today, Riya goes to school and gets help from older brother when she needs it. In fact, her brother has started helping with household chores, so the work gets done and they can leave for school together.
“I always thought girls were different from boys and should be treated differently. That’s the reason I did not send my other daughters to school, but I deeply regret that now. They could have had better lives if I had let them study. I will make sure that Riya goes to school and will let her study for as long as she wants” says Riya’s father. Riya’s focus is now on learning as much she can, so she can teach her sisters lessons when they come to visit.
Educate A Child (EAC) has partnered with Educate Girls to identify out of school children like Riya to ensure that that they have access to quality primary education. With the support of EAC, Educate Girls has been working in some of the most remote and marginalised communities of India, providing over 241,000 formerly out of school children (OOSC) an opportunity to learn, thereby contributing directly to the UN’s SDG 4 and indirectly impacting a number of other SDGs.