AGS started imparting primary education to out of school and drop out girls through non formal education centers in the year 2001 in Mewat region in the state of Haryana under its national programme “Shiska Muhim” movement for education. AGS has run more than 100 such education centres for underprivileged girls in the state of Haryana in various blocks of Mewat district- Nuh. Nagina, Punhana, Hathin (now Hathin is merged with Palwal district). This programme is running in collaboration with state government and other agencies. Out of these 100 centres, 50 centres also had provision of providing vocational training (tailoring).
Main thrust of this project is on imparting free quality primary education to out of school girls age between 6-14 years because AGS believes that while high quality basic education is important for everyone, supporting girls’ education is a single-highest-yielding investment for a country like ours can make. Studies show that girls who are educated marry later, have fewer and healthier children and are better able to care for their families. Advocacy for Right to Education and health awareness programme for the students are important components of this project.
High rate of female illiteracy, high rate of drop-outs especially girls and large number of out of school girls, ill-health, low status of girls/women and poverty on one side and change in the attitude of people especially women towards girls education and their eagerness to send their girls to education centres, though at their conditions, on the other hand, have motivated AGS to open more centres in this region. AGS efforts and results in this region since 2000, community support through its participation and girls’ determination to learn, earn and have better health have also enhanced level of motivation of AGS staff to work in this region.
Before starting its journey towards its goal, AGS conducted a need assessment survey in the Meo community of Haryana. AGS familiarity with the region and its rapport with the people (which was gradually established) helped AGS to convince people about the usefulness of girl’s education. AGS are continuing its efforts of making people aware with the help of teachers, coordinators and village level education committees. It was observed that earlier people especially women were giving more importance to skill development and least interested in education but after AGS intervention the attitude of women has changed towards girl education.
AGS have also observed that during the harvesting seasons especially in the months of January-February and April-May the attendance of older girls in schools falls drastically as the children have to work in the fields to earn money. These girls also have to look after younger siblings and other household chores and this contributes to falling attendance. Girls also visit Mosque every day in the morning and evening to get religious education. In its regular meetings with parents of these children, AGS is successful at great extent to convince the former to send their children to schools regularly. In circumstances like these AGS centers prove to be very helpful as the timings of these centers are flexible suiting the convenience of the girls. AGS also appoint female teachers in its centers to establish a comfort level between parents, teachers and students.
Salient Features of Primary Education
- Imparting free quality primary education through Education centers
- Completion of primary education within three years
- Education centers exclusively for illiterates and drop out girls
- Keeping in mind the cultural constraint of the region only female teachers provide education
- The enrollment age of students in education centers is 6-14 years
- Timing of the classes is scheduled as per the convenience of the students
- Location of the education centre is provided by the community
- Culture, gender and community sensitive education centres
- Duration of classes is four hours a day and 24 hours a week
- Participatory and Communicative methods of teaching are employed
- Community participation through Village Level Education Committee (VLEC) and Gram Panchayat skill development and enhancement of income generation and economic independence are necessary supportive activities