Educating girls and creating girl leaders
This year was particularly difficult at the Ashram due to the pandemic lockdown and the girls had to go back to their villages; as such their school education and leadership training could not continue. However, the school principals and teachers had regular meetings to assess if online education can be provided. As a first step, under strict precautions they invited parents and girls on campus, , and created a WhatsApp group for the students. The students and parents were also provided guidance and instruction on how to connect to the Internet and gain access to the WhatsApp group. Subject-wise time table was prepared for the whole month for each grade and shared via the WhatsApp group. Teachers followed this protocol of learning and provided daily video, audio and documents to students, as per the published curriculum. Online learning via Internet was difficult as many villages do not have Internet access and not all families have smart phones.
Remote learning had other challenges too, such as students could not always interact with the teachers well, and many students also could not study well due to pressure to help in their farms and homes.
For 10-12 grade students more help was provided by the teachers for math, science etc. and the students were encouraged to watch educational TV channels like Door Darshan, Girnar and Vande Gujarat, to facilitate learning. There were some other activities conducted on the campus as and when the situation permitted. These included Gratitude Fest, art contest, Campus cleaning drive etc.
Case study: Many a times young girls, with a lot of potential for better education, leave the school due to circumstances beyond their control. Such was the case with Aishwarya, a very bright student who was doing very well in studies up to 10th grade, dropped out of school when her father died of Tuberculosis. She still managed to complete 12th grade with 73% score in exams with some support from the school. But then end up taking a job as a domestic worker. After 2 years, her mother realized that her daughter had the potential for further studies and approached the ashram school again. Aishwarya was enrolled in the first year of Primary Teachers College training and has begun online learning.