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Schools, skills, and empowerment curricula in India

Wed, March 8, 3:15 to 6:30pm, Sheraton Atlanta, Floor: 1, Atlanta 3 (North Tower)


The state Uttar Pradesh in India is the most populous and also one of the most backward states, with poor human development indicators, especially with respect to girls and women, their education, and their lives . In response to this, the Prerna school was established to meet the needs of some of these girls. Most of the girls face multiple gendered barriers similar to those that are faced by girls in other contexts. They are at risk of being married early, work long hours at home and outside and are at risk of violence and abuse at home and the streets. These all present serious challenges and barriers to their education and to living quality lives. However the Prerna school, established by Dr. Sahni, has succeeded in achieving high completion rates and achievement scores along with a very good transition rate to higher education. Prerna students complete, learn and emerge as empowered young women, with a perception of themselves as equal persons, with voice and agency to live lives of their own choosing. This presentation will share some of the best practices around girls’ education and empowerment employed in the Perna school, along with the struggles and challenges. It will focus particularly on the empowerment curriculum used, channeling the perspectives of students, parents and teachers. Prerna adopts an expanded vision of education, with an educational goal that focuses on learning and life outcomes both. The educational program is responsive to girls’ lives and needs, addresses gender directly, taking a critical feminist perspective. Since 2011, they have scaled our empowerment curriculum to over 500 schools in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, and are in the process of expanding the program to another 500 by 2018.