In 2008, starting from 10 children and one teacher, operating from a small hovel, the Swarachna Learning and Resource Centre grew to 65 children and 3 teachers in a matter of three months. By the end of the year there were a 156 students.
The Learning centre was born because there was acute need for secondary school in area. To date it remains the only secondary school in a radius of 13 kms, covering more than 25 villages and a population of over 7000. This was a major cause of dropouts post class 5, especially among girls.
The centre has been instrumental in slowly but steadily reversing the situation. As of 2014 almost 40% of the centre strength is comprised of students who were earlier not going to any school. Belonging to backward classes such as dalits, SCs and Muslims was also a contributing factor. A majority of our students belong to these sections of society.
The centre’s impact on girl’s education in the region has been quite significant. Where there were only girls in single digits clearing class 10 earlier, last year itself 15 girls sat for and cleared the class 10 board exams, many of them continuing their higher studies. To date around 25 girls have cleared their class 10. Four girls have cleared class 12. As many as 15 will be giving their exams this year and over 20 the next year. Interventions under the Swabhiman programs means that this number will only continue to rise.
Community engagements has led to parents becoming increasingly aware of the importance of education and more involved in the functioning of the centre. Much of the centres activities are conducted in consultation with the community. Where earlier parents were not keen to educate their girls, who would only go on to get married, they are now more willing to empower their daughters. While the problem persists, there is a slow but visible change in the mindset of the people.
The youth centric approach, drawing on 5th space principles, has been the cause of the empowered young people taking charge of making these changes possible. They are not only the facilitators and teachers but Milaan brand ambassadors. This was most evident in the Swabhiman program’s growth, where it was the efforts of young women from the community taking charge and going door to door to convince parents to send their daughters to school, driving up to the strength of the program from 15 girls to 87 in 2 short months of intense effort. Today that program works with 91 girls and has also expanded to other parts of UP.
Despite all of this, we realize that much work still needs to be done and there is much we still need to learn. Our future plans have laid with this realization in mind. To learn more about our future directions, please read the sections on future plans under each of our programs.