That’s one finding from our baseline survey in Bihar schools so far. In addition to teacher training and classroom visits, the Going to School team has been conducting a baseline survey with Class 9 students that are participating in the Be! Schools program. The baseline will help us understand children’s aspirations and challenges that they face, as well as their existing knowledge and understanding of entrepreneurship and skills.
One of the questions we asked children to answer was, ‘What is the definition of entrepreneurship?’
A discussion led by our master trainers post the survey had girls jumping up and down in their seats with questions and comments, trying to get heard above each other. Bharati from Gandhi Arya Kanya Vidyalay in Patna said, “Doing new things.” When asked to give an example, she told us, ‘”Instead of marrying early in life, I wish to study further and make my own life. That’s entrepreneurship!” Girls throughout the classroom nodded their heads in agreement.
We also asked children how far they want to study and what they want to do afterwards.
Soni, from the same school, got up with a sense of purpose. “My mother doesn’t want us three sisters studying beyond matriculation. But all of us are equally determined. I hear that children find excuses not to study, but we find all possible reasons to study whenever possible.”
Not all parents are unsupportive. Pooja Sharma told us, “With four of my elder sisters being married, everyone hopes I will go farther with my studies.” Pinky also shot up from her seat and said, “My mom encourages me to study further. As much as she encourages my brothers!”
The encouraging news is that girls almost universally said they want to study and work, instead of just getting married. One of our master trainers—a 25-year-old—summed it up best: “I feel old. This is new Bihar.”