Monday, July 16, 2018

The Math lecture changed my life!

2:50:00 PM
"My first experience of public speaking was in the Math lecture. While initially, I shivered, but when I realised that my answer was correct, I felt confident", Monica says to us when we visit her at her home at Ramkhiriya village in Jabalpur. She works at the village Aanganwadi and is a proud alumnus of Pratham's Second Chance Program. 





“I studied in my village government school till 4th grade, and then my parents enrolled me in an all-girls school at Sepra. But I failed in the 9th grade, and that was the end of my school life”, she begins her story.  
Monica liked to study, and she had thought of studying at least until 10th grade. Moreover, her parents also felt that she should study and get a decent job. “My parents are labourers, and they feel I should not continue what they are doing. They desire a better life for me”, she says, as she gives us a glimpse of her family background.
With this baggage, nothing could have stopped Monica from completing her 10th grade, but her failure to clear 9th grade created a major roadblock. She lost confidence and completely gave up the idea of continuing 10th grade. However, after a year, she heard of Pratham’s Second Chance Program, and she renewed her hopes of getting back to studies. She enrolled in the program and after a few days; she began to enjoy the experience.
“The best thing about the program is that it involves activities and they cover basic concepts”, she recalls. As she became more used to the classes, her confidence rose. “I began to ask more questions, something I never did in school. Initially, I was shy, but the Math lecture changed it all”, she says with a smile.
The Second Chance Program changed Monica’s life. She not only became happy after seeing her 10th-grade mark sheet but also decided to continue her studies further. Though she got married in 11th grade, her in-laws supported her, and she completed studies till 12th grade. It widened her work opportunities, and she worked at Trident Abhishek for a year at Hoshangabad.
“I am a confident person now, and I never imagined that I would change so much! It all happened because I was given a chance to speak in that Math lecture of the Second Chance Program”, she smiles and completes narrating her story.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Building foundations with Pratham

11:19:00 AM
“Initially my brother and my husband did not allow me to teach. But I convinced them. I told them that this is a noble profession”, Leelavati begins her story with a smile that resonates happiness and satisfaction. She is happy that we have visited her to know more about her.
Leelavati has been teaching at Pratham’s Balwadi in Mysore for the past 16 years. Her Balwadi is located at the N.M Moholla in Mysore city. With an experience of so many years, she has seen a rapid change in the city and has seen it reflect in her Balwadi as well. However, she chooses to recall her days before she became a teacher.




“I was a housewife, and my friend was a teacher in a government school. In 2002, Pratham came to this city and was looking for a Balwadi teacher”, she begins her story. Her friend asked her if she could take up the responsibility, and eventually managed to translate her reluctance to a positive decision. She underwent training with Pratham and in a few days became confident and equipped to teach a Balwadi. 
“16 years back, there were less aanganwadis around and hardly any pre-school options. It was difficult for me to convince parents to send their children to the Balwadi”, she says.  
Leelavati had to make door-to-door visits to convince parents about the importance of pre-school education. Her efforts bore fruits and soon enrollments to her Balwadi increased.
“Back then, there were 50 children in her Balwadi. Initially, I found it difficult, but I was later used to it”, she recalls with a smile. However, Pratham later restricted 25 children for one teacher, and she began working with the set of children assigned to her. The community also started supporting her efforts, and it was a clear signal that they now the understood the importance of pre-school education.  
Leelavati helps children adjust with the reading material, hold chalk in their hand, identify shapes and figures and in this way get ready for school. She proudly says that children from her Balwadi find it easy to adjust in school.  “The government school has praised our efforts, and they acknowledge that the children from our Balwadi are better equipped to adjust in primary school,” she says with pride. Leelavati also arranges a meeting with the mothers of these children and ensures that they are updated with the progress their child is making. The community at N.M Moholla consists of auto-drivers, daily wage earners, vegetable-sellers, people working on construction sites and economically backward families, and in many cases, their children are first-generation school-goers. Hence, Leelavati’s efforts carry a lot of significance.
Mysore has changed a lot in these 16 years. It has now accommodated migrants from other states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Bengal who are working in the city as labourers. Many families from these states are settled at N.M Moholla, and their children are now a part of her Balwadi.
“Earlier my Balwadi only had children from Kannada-speaking families. But now my job is to accommodate children from these families and make sure they understand Kannada so that they can adjust well in government primary schools”, she says with a smile that convinces us that she is ready for the next set of challenges.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Muskaan - Bihar

3:21:00 PM
When daily meals become a challenge, there is little scope to focus on education. Bihar’s Muskaan is one of the many students who face the financial difficulty and cannot continue to study.


Muskaan is the eldest of 3 daughters of a daily wage labourer. Her father never went to school, and her mother dropped out in 7th Grade. But they aspired for a better future for their children. Due to unavoidable reasons, Muskaan had to drop out of school in 4th Grade. Pratham’s second Chance program brought a ray of hope in her life with the opportunity to complete 10th Grade. She promptly enrolled herself and put all her mind and hard work in studying. She had to catch up with the concepts and methods that she missed in her years out of school. But Muskaan proved to be a bright student. She did well in all the class tests and was always eager to answer. While she was preparing for the upcoming exams, Muskaan’s father slipped into prolonged unemployment. Unable to support the family, he decided to move with everyone to his village. This decision did not go down well with Muskaan. She began talking to her teachers and classmates at the centre. She decided to stay with two girls from her class. Muskaan, along with the staff of Pratham, convinced her parents to let her stay back and complete the exam.
Muskaan lives with her classmate’s family and is preparing for the exam. She missed her family but her focus and dedication to make the most of this chance helped her. Muskaan found a way out of multiple challenges in life; she hopes to find her way to success in the exams as well. She will appear for 10th-grade examination in July, and we wish her and all the girls from Pratham's 'Second Chance' Program in Bihar all the best for their exam.  

Manjusha - Maharashtra

11:04:00 AM
33-year old Manjusha from Katol in Maharashtra was visiting her maternal aunt when she was approached by the mobilisers from Pratham's Second Chance Program. When she realised that she can still complete her 10th-grade, she wasted no time in enrolling herself.

Manjusha belongs to a family who never completed their education. Due to their financial troubles, she had to drop out of school in 8th-grade. She soon got married and got busy with household chores. With time she became a mother of two children. One day her husband was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and died. Manjusha had no one to help her with the children, and hence she moved back to her parent's place. She began helping her father on the farm.



When Manjusha decided to complete her 10th-grade, she realised that she had a mountain of responsibilities back home. She continued to work on the farm and attended classes at the centre. She would then help her children with their school-work and find time to study as well. She found the Life Skills session very useful for her daily challenges. Whatever she learnt, she applied it in her day-to-day life. She wanted to graduate and look for a good job for herself. Her hard work paid off, and she scored 69% in 10th-grade. She is pleased and feels more confident about the future of her children. 

Manjusha is one of the 500 girls who were a part of Pratham's 'Second Chance' Program in Maharashtra this year. With 482 of them passing their 10th-grade this year, the passing percentage of the state stands at 88%. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Shirisha - Telangana

11:41:00 AM
17-year-old Shirisha from Telangana had to move from one house to another after the death of her parents. Her relatives would shrug off her responsibility and eventually send her to an orphanage. With no one to support her education, she dropped out of school in 8th Grade. The uncertainty in her life caused her a lot of grief. She realised that she needs to find a way to complete her education if she wants to have a better future. This was when she met one of the mobilizers from Pratham’s Second Chance program. She enrolled herself in the batch of 2017-18 and began a journey, this time, on her terms.


Her initial anxiety and fear of not doing well created a lot of obstacles in class. With time she found friends and confidants in her classmates and teachers. She started to open up and ask any doubts or questions she had in mind. She participated in all the activities with great enthusiasm, and everyone at the centre became her family.
This optimism helped Shirisha explore her own likes and dislikes. She loves to design clothes and play around with patterns. In her free time, she tries her hand at tailoring as well.
Shirisha always wanted to serve people in some way. She aspires to be a nurse after completing her studies. She passed 10th Grade and scored 6 points out of 10. As she learnt to take decisions on her own at a very young age, this success has only added to her confidence to take up more significant challenges in life.  
Shirisha is one of the 529 girls who were a part of Pratham's 'Second Chance' Program in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh this year. With 315 of them passing their 10th-grade, the pass percentage of the States stands at 60%. 

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