Project: Skills4Girls in partnership with Going to School
Location: Bihar
Category: Education

Going to School

DS has continued to support Going to School’s Skills4Girls project, which teaches soft entrepreneurial skills through stories and skills-based activities to 599 girls in upper primary schools in Patna, Bihar. In addition to its entre­preneurial focus, the program seeks to reduce the dropout rate of girls from school and to motivate their teachers.

This NGO faced several hurdles this past year. For example, Skills4Girls found it difficult to reach girls while they were at home because of inaccurate phone numbers and incomplete addresses; understandably, this led to difficulty in tracking the girls and implementing the program. Skills4Girls adjusted the program in order to better meet the needs of the students, parents, and teachers. For example, home visits proved to be very beneficial in reaching parents and students. Currently, Skills4Girls plans to map all secondary schools in the vicinity of a middle school, submit a list of potential students (and their addresses) to the headmasters of the target secondary schools, note the names of prominent village people, and visit the homes of children in order to open communication channels.

Consistent monitoring and engaged admin­istrators and principals are critical to motivating teachers to implement the programs and teach students accordingly. One way this is achieved is through a teacher training activity which involves role-playing interviews between an entrepreneur and a journalist; this has been essential in encour­aging students to be active participants and instilling confidence in them.

–2014 IDS annual report

Going to School is a creative nonprofit organization that inspires and empowers impoverished children to transform their lives through education and entrepreneurship. The Skills4Girls program uses narratives to teach entrepreneurial skills to 8th grade girls in ten government secondary schools in Bihar, India. The project follows each of the 500 girls for two years throughout her skill-learning journey, during which time students will read stories, play skills games within the classroom setting, and create and develop their own skills projects.

Through the implementation of skills-driven projects, Skills4Girls hopes to prevent girls from dropping out of school. In Bihar, 86% of adolescent girls drop out of school by 10th grade. A lack of female role models—women who have completed their education and are employed outside the home—is evident. This project, therefore, intervenes in a cycle of poverty that prevents women from becoming employable and independent.

With financial support from IDS, the Going to School organization trained 24 teachers and four government block resource officers for three days; the trainees in turn implemented the Skills4Girls program in twelve upper primary schools, reaching over 599 new girls this past year.

A survey evaluation of the program revealed:

  • A very high percentage (97%) of the girls were curious about exploring and learning.
  • Risk-taking ability increased from 53% to 84%.
  • The number of girls who wanted to pursue graduation was 26%, and 36% of those wanted to study beyond graduation.
  • Based on the survey results, the three most important skills needed to start a business are access to information (mentioned by 29% of the girls), knowledge of the market (mentioned by 14%), and work experience (mentioned by 12%).
  • More than half (60%) of the girls knew of someone in their family who is an entrepreneur.
  • The highest-priority social issues were pollution and safe drinking water, mentioned by 34% and 17% of the girls, respectively.
  • Hostels are seen as an important factor in the educational growth of girls; 88% of the girls indicated that a hostel environment helps them. Hostels served multiple purposes; 56% of the girls said hostels made schools more accessible; 26% indicated they get good guidance and support from their hostel teachers; and 12% said that, thanks to hostels, they could concentrate more on their studies.
  • Almost half (40%) the girls surveyed said that they wanted to start their own busi­ness in order to improve the financial conditions of their family.

–2013 IDS annual report