Empowering Girls In India for Digital Future
Girls’ Education in India- Pandemic and Other Roadblocks
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on most sectors across India. Of all, the education sector has faced immense challenges, as the lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a complete shutdown of all academic institutions in the country. The pandemic worsened an already precarious state of girls’ education in India.
The lockdown-induced closure of schools reportedly raised the drop-out rates among girl students, especially from the marginalised communities. While boys are more likely to return to school, many girls may not be able to do so, because of the compulsion to work and take up caregiving responsibilities, or worst of all, to be married off.
The pandemic has disrupted the education system completely and online learning has become the model for all educational institutions in India. But, with only 27% of houses having access to the internet (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi Centre, 2020 report), the wide digital divide and few remote learning opportunities brought girls’ schooling to a standstill.
Besides the pandemic, pre-existing roadblocks, such as gender discrimination, patriarchal mindsets, and regressive socio-cultural practices, adversely affected girls’ education in India. According to Census 2011, the above-mentioned factors have led to low female literacy levels of 65% at the national level, whereas it stood at 46% in rural India. Also, varying learning levels among the students and a high student-teacher ratio make personalised learning difficult.
What is Project Nanhi Kali?
Project Nanhi Kali, a brainchild of Mahindra Group’s Anand Mahindra, aims at providing quality education to underprivileged girls in India. It began in 1996 and had been jointly managed by K.C. Mahindra Education Trust and Naandi Foundation since 2005.
Having a similar commitment to girls’ education in India, SAP collaborated with Project Nanhi Kali in 2019. Since then, SAP, through its CSR ‘Code Unnati’ project, has benefitted at least 12,468 girls from economically and socially underprivileged backgrounds.
SAP Code Unnati and Project Nanhi Kali jointly provide girls with daily after-school academic support and annual school support kits, consisting of a school bag, stationery, pullover/raincoat, and hygiene material. These kits enable them to attend school with dignity. The Project also empowers the girls with digital literacy and life skills training.
SAP Code Unnati bolsters the Nanhi Kali initiative by providing financial, logistic, and training support in Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
How Project Nanhi Kali Improved Sheela’s Academic Performance
Sheela, a grade 4 student at Kendra Gauspur Primary School, Block Jamunaha, District Shravasti of Uttar Pradesh, India, made remarkable academic progress after being inducted to Project Nanhi Kali.
Sheela, who was already academically sound, started lagging in her studies due to excessive work at home and in the farms. Her tutor, Poonam Srivastava, sensed her challenges and convinced her parents to send Sheela to the Nanhi Kali after-school academic support centre for two hours every day.
Sheela started showing improvement in her studies due to the constant support and guidance of trainers at the Nanhi Kali centre. She now learns English, Maths, and Hindi through AI-powered learning apps on a digital tablet. She also enjoys games and painting at the centre.
Shri Shambhu Yadav, Sheela’s father, says, “I am very happy and grateful to SAP Code Unnati and the Nanhi Kali programme, as they are giving my daughter an opportunity to read and learn on a digital tablet, which we never imagined.”
Aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals 4 & 5 of Quality Education and Gender Equality, SAP Code Unnati and Project Nanhi Kali are committed to educating girls and transforming them into empowered women.