Summer, Rajasthan… outside it was dry, still and hot, but inside, our workshop room was buzzing with excitement. Khatija, age 15, Rehana, age 16 and Asifa, age 15 were telling us how they negotiated, as a group, with their parents to let them continue going to school.
The girls were from a small village outside Jaipur called Bandhyali where they attended a school run by Digantar Shiksha Evam Khelkud Samiti. The school had classes only up to grade eight. “After grade eight my family said that I should study at home because Digantar school did not have higher classes and they were not going to allow me to go to the school in the city. But I wanted to study further. Two of my friends and I went to Digantar’s office and requested them to upgrade the school so that we could continue studying. They said it was not possible to hold classes for just three girls but if we were a bigger group, they would think about it. We decided to get together and convince the people in the village. I would tell everyone at home that I am going to school but I would go to another girl’s house and talk to her parents. I would make up stories and tell them that all the other parents are ready to send their daughter to school, why don’t you send your daughter too? On hearing that the rest of the community had agreed, they would agree too. This way we became a group of 18 girls. Once again, we went to the office. We said now we are a big group so now you have to help us. That was when they started grade nine and ten.”
Be! an Entrepreneur
Children across India are faced with multiple problems: from no water in the shared community tap to arguments that break out as a result, to not being able to go to the local government school if they have migrated and have no fixed address. Life is a constant struggle. In the midst of these large problems, children have their own day-to-day problems that they are constantly trying to solve: from not being allowed to go to a fair, to not being treated equally at school; from a broken radio to the danger of a sparrow’s nest being destroyed – their problems are many and varied. Just like entrepreneurs, children recognize the potential and the skills that they have. They negotiate and bargain with their parents, teachers and other authority figures in their lives and actively use these skills to solve the problems that they face in their lives.
To see the girls tell their story of making sure they could go to school, please watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GSkC3ADu40