State of the World’s Children, 2004: audio package for radio broadcasters
Suggested narrator script, interview transcripts and sound actuality in MP3 format.
Total running time, including introduction, narration and all sound elements: approximately 5 minutes, 30 seconds.
All material recorded and scripted by UNICEF. Material is for broadcast use, free of charge.
Bihar is one of the poorest states in India , home to 86 million people. Most are subsistence farmers and fishermen living in remote, flood-prone areas, far from the nearest school. Historically, very few girls have gone to school in Bihar – but in recent years the picture has been changing with enrolment rates for girls rising from just 24% in 1992 to 34% today. With the support of UNICEF girls now have the chance to go to “jagjagis” or “wake up” centres as well as special boarding schools. Bihar’s Education Project reaches over 2000 villages, and four out of five girls go on from the boarding schools to secondary education. Without support, most of them would never have seen a pen or pencil. 18-year-old Lalita Kumari is one of the girls who has beaten the odds. Not only is she continuing her education, she has landed herself an unusual teaching job…
Audio of karate class
Teenage girls stand in rows, feet astride, thrusting first one arm then the other straight out in front of them – it’s a karate lesson and the teacher is 18-year-old Lalita Kumari. Lalita is such a natural at the martial art that she’s become a blue belt—and she’s now been asked to teach physical education in four local schools.
Lalita: (in Hindi)
“By learning karate, I now feel more confident about tackling anybody trying to harm me. I can now protect myself against an enemy attack and get out of any problem unscathed.”
Ater going to a jagjagi, Lalita went on to the Mahila Shiksan Kendra - a boarding school for semi-literate students aged 15 to 35. Part of the Bihar Education project, the school provides a basic education in maths, painting, language skills and vocational training over eight months. Lalita now returns to her old school to teach karate…
Lalita: (in Hindi)
“Before I started studying and going to school, I never had the confidence to speak to any adult, or go out and meet anybody. I hadn’t even seen another village or district or town.”
Getting a start at school was no easy task – Lalita had to persuade her parents to let her go to a jagjagi at the age of twelve. Her mother recalls her first reaction when Lalita approached her about going to school:
Lalita’s mother: (in Hindi)
“What’s the need to let a girl study? What is the use? She can study as much as she likes, but in the end she’ll only have to cook, which she’d be doing anyway if she didn’t study.”
As a child Lalita became used to hearing opposition from all sides.
Lalita: (in Hindi)
“Everyone used to call me a boy since I wanted to go to school. Do girls study? No way. Boys study and girls don’t. They don’t go. They do the household work. If you’re a girl and you go to school, then people will laugh at us.”
Audio of school gong and girls in class.
As another school day starts at the Mahila Shiksan Kendra, the headteacher Ms Sangeeta says the lessons are about much more than physical fitness…
Ms Sangeeta: (in Hindi)
“Lalita attended our school. Empowerment is one of our major objectives, and for that reason, we impart some kind of training to these girls: cycling, knitting, painting, karate, sewing and art. We give training in karate so that the girls can develop a sense of self-confidence. Usually, these girls come from a background which is very backward, so they’re very withdrawn, scared, introverted and shy. So much so that they hesitate to a great extent to express themselves. But karate training helps them open up.”
Today, Lalita’s parents are fully behind her education – Lalita’s father is quite sure they made the right decision…
Lalita’s father (in Hindi)
“Today everyone realizes the advantages of sending their children to study. It has become a huge success. Everyone is happy to let their daughters study. Now, if they call 30 girls to study, 50 show up for lessons. It’s really become a huge hit over here.”
Education has paid off for Lalita and her community. She’s taught hundreds of young women how to defend themselves and has also earned money for herself and her family. Lalita’s mother says she’s proud of her daughter..
Lalita’s mother (in Hindi)
“Now people are saying ‘look how well a girl from our community has developed.’ It’s very nice to hear.”
Audio of second karate class
As the sun goes down, another karate lesson is under way – and out in front of the class is Lalita, a young woman determined that other girls will follow her lead…
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