What happens when a crisis hits another crisis?

Prior to the pandemic, 130 million girls were out of school and when Covid hit, it was estimated that over 11 million girls might never return to school. The out-of-school girl problem has been an ongoing crisis.

The past two years have been a witness to how women and girls have borne the brunt of it. They are the first ones to lose out on nutrition, amenities and basic rights. In rural India,  many adolescent girls have taken up household chores, and agricultural activities and while they are now getting back to school, the work continues. So the burden has increased, and it may lead to them dropping out of school in the near future.

Without access to online education during Covid, girls have forgotten what was taught to them in school. In remote India, where they are usually first-generation learners, there is no one at home to assist in their studies.

To bridge this gap in education, Educate Girls started Camp Vidya – a community-based learning initiative. Conducted by our Team Balika volunteers, it integrated Government’s digital learning platforms into the curriculum along with activity-based sessions to improve foundational Hindi literacy and numeracy skills in children. A total of 5,700+ such camps were conducted in rural Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

At Educate Girls, we have heavy boots on the ground and have seen girls not getting access to smartphones for e-classes. Even if the family did possess a smartphone, it belonged to the male member and it wasn’t shared with the girl fearing that they may bring disgrace to the family.

The digital divide also got exacerbated due to gender bias.

Girls’ limited access to technology will only mean a slower pace of development. With limited access to information, they automatically become dependent on old socio-cultural norms of doing things. It has become clearer that educating girls can solve some of the world’s most pressing problems and help achieve 9 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Bharat EdTech Initiative is striving to ensure equitable access to education through EdTech interventions for all children. The Initiative has onboarded 117,000 students to their partners’ EdTech platforms. Of the children onboarded, 46% are girls so far. 

Poverty coupled with patriarchy has been keeping girls away from their basic right to education.

Education is a powerful tool that empowers her to break this bias and the intergenerational cycle of poverty and illiteracy. In the process of connecting her with education. At Educate Girls we make her parents, the community and her entire ecosystem aware of her right to education and the lifelong benefits that she and her family can avail because of it.

India is moving at a very fast pace towards digitization but to be more inclusive towards the most vulnerable, it must be done through a gendered lens.

Safeena Husain | Founder & Board Member, Educate Gils

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