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Calling Girls Back to School

Happy faces at ALPANA, the residential bridge school at Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh, a state with very low female literacy.
By Kulsum Mustafa

LUCKNOW  India, August 20 2009 -
 Residential Bridge Course or RBC as the programme is called in short is as relevant for the healthy development of ‘out of school girls’ as RBC or red blood corpuscles are for the growth of an individual.

An innovative educational concept, RBC has been designed to assist the mainstreaming of selected ‘out of school girls’ between the age of 11-14 years. In just 11 months RBC ensures that these girls attain an academic level equivalent to class five curriculum. They are then ready to join regular school in class six.

An innovative course to fill up the educational gap

In these special residential schools through intensive, yet interesting teaching methods the four year educational gap is filled up, leading to phenomenal results.

In a state like Uttar Pradesh, where a quarter of a million children continue to be out of school and where the bulk of drop-outs are girls, chiefly from minority and schedule caste\tribes RBC provide an affective strategy for curbing this number drastically.

RBC is proving to be a major support for the government in promoting girls education and helping hike universal primary education level. The girls are taught Hindi, mathematics and science and life skills.

English is added in class fourth curriculum. Poems are taught through group recitation, math through pebbles, stones and sticks. Acting as facilitators, teachers help girls develop qualities of leadership, concentration, speed, coordination, observation and competiveness.

Government, UNICEF work in tandem to get girls back to school

Equal partner’s in Uttar Pradesh government’s endeavor to bring girls back to school UNICEF organized a training for 200 rural adolescence in three identified blocks of Hardoi which have lowest female literacy rates. The results were more than satisfactory.

“Coaxing the girls to join RBC was not easy. The field workers had to make several visit to every household, conduct intensive counseling of both the girls and their parents before they finally agreed,” Ms Maheswari, a teacher cum warden at RBC in Hardoi narrated her experience.

“The RBC empowers girls makes them self-confident. Emerging as leaders they are ready to act as motivators and bring over more girls,” she explained.

“The transformation is heartening. Once the initial hesitation is gone, we live here like one big family, sharing our joys and sorrows,” says Sumati who teaches math. Ruby the last to be admitted to the course proves the point.

“Initially I was home-sick, I wanted to run away but today I am glad I did not, I have learnt so much here. I have established lasting bonds, I will miss RBC, ” she says.

For Aruna RBC proved to be a real succor. Had it not been for RBC she would have been married by now. At RBC she learnt about the dangers of early marriage. Boldly she confronted her parents asking them to defer her marriage till she completed intermediate. They eventually saw her point and so did her in –laws.. A happy Aruna can today chase her dream of becoming a teacher.

For poor farmhand Jaichand of Bilalpur to see his daughter Soni read and write and talk as a confident human being is heart-warming. “She is no longer the timid village lass I left here, but a confident lady,” says Jaichand wiping tears of joy blurring his vision.

Dr Meera Pal, principal DIET is also all praise for RBC, “Our education level will go up if we use the innovative teaching methods used in RBC in our government schools,” says Pal.

UNICEF education specialist Vinobha Gautam is a contented man. “RBC results are satisfying. It is helping reduce the gender gap in elementary education and aiding the government achieve Minimum Development Goal Commitment articulated in the country programme (2008- 2012).” Amen! to that. After all no state is in more dire need to make its primary education more effective than Uttar Pradesh.

 

 

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