In India, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic threatened to impede the academic progress of children, specifically those facing their board examinations. The closure of schools and the introduction of technology in education induced a great level of stress and uncertainty but, thanks to the educational support of Aide et Action’s ENLIGHT project, several girls, particularly those from the most disadvantaged groups were able to score big in the boards and their aspirations are growing higher each day – inspiring news as we mark International Day of The Girl Child.
Kavinila, a young female student living in Trichy, a city in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state is one of the 2,000 girls that our ENLIGHT project has supported since its founding in 2015. In partnership with Capgemini, our project is designed to support marginalised children living in difficult circumstances across nine Indian cities. These difficult circumstances vary from city to city.
In Bangalore, we support girls from Muslim communities; in Chennai, we work with Adi Dravida, (Scheduled Caste); in Delhi, we support girls from migrant families settled in slums; in Hyderabad, we focus on girls living with disabilities; in Kolkata, we support child children whose caregivers work in prostitution; in Mumbai, we work with girls whose caregivers work as waste pickers; in Salem, we support girls affected by HIV/AIDS; in Pune, we work with girl children of denotified communities and in Trichy, we support girl children of manual scavengers, like Kavinila.
Continuing education against the odds
Formerly, a manual scavenger, Kavinila’s father now works as a welder and her mother works as a daily wager in a dal processing company but their low-paid jobs leave the family sharing a single room in an abandoned house along the city’s railway lines. Yet against this background, Kavinila remained focused on her schoolwork, determined to succeed.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Aide et Action’s team was in regular contact with students like Kavinila to support their education. Those who could connect online were linked to educational applications while those who couldn’t were provided with worksheets. The team connected with the children over the phone and assisted them regularly. As a result, Kavinila was able to continue her education and scored 469/600 in her XII exam, much to her delight.
“If not for ENLIGHT, I would have discontinued my education long ago, giving in to those who discouraged me and taunted me for continuing my education and becoming a burden for the family,” explains Kavinila. “Joining this project made me strong and more determined and I aim to become an advocate to help girls and women who need legal support.”
Standing proud with education in hand
In Salem, student Soundarya scored an incredible 85% in her XII board exams. Soundarya joined ENLIGHT’s project at a time when nothing was going right for her or her family who are living with HIV/AIDS. ENLIGHT transformed Soundarya into a confident person and instilled an aim in her to succeed.“Without ENLIGHT, I would have dropped out of school long ago and would have got married off”, says Soundarya. “ENLIGHT rebuilt my confidence in myself as well as my parents. Now, I am confident about my future. I want to stand on my own two feet before getting married.
Tabsin, a student from Bengaluru, had a similar journey to Soundarya but is now standing tall and proud with her recent score of 72% in her SSLC examination. “I am the first girl in my family to go to school,” says Tabsin. “I faced a lot of difficulties comprehending the classroom sessions and subjects. But, thanks to ENLIGHT, I could overcome the challenges.”
Thankfully, the success of Tabsin, Soundarya and Kavinila is not unique. ENLIGHT’s commitment to education this year has supported several girls to continue education. 97 girls who appeared for their X exams scored between 40% to 90 % while 31 girls who appeared for their XII exams scored between 55 % to 91 %. We are proud to have successfully helped girls in continuing their education, giving them a sense of pride, confidence and direction.
Happy International Day of The Girl Child 2021!