Alwar (Rajasthan): A new era for the empowerment of Muslim girls in the Mewat region has begun with the setting up of the Alwar Mewat Institute of Education and Development (AMIED), a volunteer, non-profit, and non-governmental organization, five years ago.
The “Initiative for Better Tomorrow” project was launched by AMIED, based in Alwar City, with the intention of preventing underage marriages by encouraging teenage females’ education.
To help girls accomplish their senior secondary education, the NGO offered to arrange residential programmes, bridging courses, and remedial classes. Parents in 25 villages of the district were persuaded, and the locals mobilized to send girls to the government-run hostels from the villages where only ill-equipped primary and middle schools were operating.
Young females from the backward Meo Muslim community have finished school, college, technical, and vocational education as a result of the project’s effective execution, and some of them have started e-Mitra centers in the villages for the benefit of the locals. Girls in the area used to get married when they were 12 to 14 years old.
Noor Mohammed, the founder of AMIED, described the project’s outcomes as being quite positive. He said that until a few years ago, people in the area thought that girls should only help out around the house and in the fields during the crop sowing and harvest seasons. Now, a new generation of educated and self-assured girls has emerged in the area.
Talking with Islamic Voice, he said with assistance from the Digital Empowerment Foundation and a mobile phone manufacturing company, about a dozen women and girls have launched their own e-Mitra center. These solar-powered educational institutions are also used to provide digital education and reproductive health counseling, as well as to inspire girls and their families to pursue further education.
One of the project’s beneficiaries, 21-year-old Rukmina of the village of Bidarka, is also the happy recipient of a prize granted by the Kishangarh Bas Sub-Divisional Officer on last year’s Republic Day in honour of her work promoting digital services and empowering women. She manages an e-governance facility in the community while pursuing her bachelor’s degree.
One of the 80 females from almost a dozen villages in the Kishangarh Bas block who have finished high school and are pursuing higher and technical education is Rukmina. This first group of girls was produced in the area, where the female literacy rate was a dismal 10% until ten years ago, thanks to extensive educational intervention.
Rukmina is regarded as an entrepreneur whose e-Mitra center offers online services to the villagers. She is the daughter of a landless laborer who toiled hard to become in command of the work sites under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme. “I also use this location as a platform for schoolgirls, providing them with study advice. It is quite satisfying to be the first female graduate of grade XII in Bidarka, stated Rukmina.
Villages like Jilota, Medabas, Musakheda, Ismailpur, Ghansoli, Chorbasai, and Kolgaon can see the effects. Every day, a group of six girls walk from Bagora village to Kishangarh Bas to attend college. These females have no intention of getting married till they finish their studies.
The programme, which was supported by an American philanthropic foundation, also resulted in the formation of organizations known as Mewat Balika Manch, which hone girls’ abilities and offer subject-specific preparation for board exams. In addition, gatherings of the general public and workshops led by Maulvis and Ulema are frequently held to discuss measures to stop the dropout of females from
Three girls from Rukmina’s village have enrolled in the Kishangarh Government Post-Graduate College at the block headquarters, and one, Sakunat, the daughter of Sarpanch Jamshed Khan, has relocated to Bharatpur to attend the Agriculture College while Rukmina is pursuing a bachelor’s degree from an open university. Since Bidarka only has a government middle school, many ladies are residing in Kishangarh Bas hostels to finish their XII education.
Similar to this, Shabnam Bano, 23, from the adjoining village of Mirzapur, is the first woman from her family to complete a polytechnic diploma programme and enroll in an engineering institution. She graduated from the Laxmi Devi Institute of Engineering & Technology in Alwar with a B.Tech. Shabnam claimed that even though she had persuaded her parents, she had to overcome tremendous opposition from the people who believed that education tainted the brains of girls. She could now enroll in the polytechnic college in Alwar.
With the addition of basic amenities to its buildings and steps to increase teacher capacity, the AMIED has also built “smart classes” in the schools in partnership with the child rights NGO Plan India. The Alwar district’s Ramgarh and Umren blocks are home to these schools, which have received financial support from a Finnish industrial organization.
According to Noor Mohammed, the effort attempted to create an environment that may motivate rural families in the Meo-dominated blocks to enroll their kids in government schools. “The Meo Muslim, Dalit, and Other Backward Class children were either attending private schools or not going to school at all,” he claimed.
Underlying the bitter fact, Noor Mohammed said the first generation of Meos, who is currently pursuing an education, are frequently demoralized by the lack of a support network at home or in the community.
Only the private schools had developed as an alternative, despite their low quality, due to the lack of basic amenities in the school buildings, high dropout rates, and local communities’ disinterest.
The project’s AMIED activists visited 25 schools over the course of three years, offering advice to the faculty, staff, students, and village elders on how to improve the educational system, fortify the school development and management committees, increase access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, and make significant infrastructure improvements.
In remote tehsils and villages like Jatpur, Choreti Pahad, Jhareda, Ghegholi, Naharpur, Palka, Dhandholi, and Goleta, there are schools for the primary, upper primary, intermediate, and senior secondary levels. The schools were also given scientific laboratory equipment and materials on Mewati literature, English language instruction, and Rajasthani history.
The project’s Building as Learning Aid (BaLA) concept, according to Rajwati Yadav, a teacher at the Government Secondary School in Dadar, used the existing infrastructural components as learning resources and helped the students in the primary section become proficient in counting objects, spelling words and performing simple calculations.
Following the successful interventions, the AMIED has noted an increase in the average result of schools in the project’s area to 87.33% for the secondary board examination and 89.86% for the senior secondary exam. Additionally, 32 females have earned a spot in the elite Gargi Award of the State Government.
With the model initiative, the government schools in the area have turned around their dropping enrollments and rising dropout rates. Better lavatory facilities, bigger classrooms, and the K-Yan device, a “knowledge vehicle” that integrates a full-feature multimedia computer with a projector and audio system and is powered by solar energy panels, have all promoted interactive learning and boosted the self-confidence of girls.
The performance of up to 25 government schools operating in the Ramgarh and Umren blocks has improved since the project’s introduction. The project has improved its facilities and been successful in drawing children from underserved communities to public schools.