Millions of Girls in India Forced to Drop Out of School Because of Their Period — This New Initiative Will Change All That for the Better

A new outreach program is launching in India to provide secondary education to girls who have dropped out of school.

The digitally-led Project Pragati aims to provide 10th grade qualifications to 10 million girls over a period of 10 years.

An ambitious goal, the initiative has strong backing — it was developed by Educate Girls, a non-profit that focuses on facilitating girls’ education in India’s rural communities, and partners with the government. Educate Girls currently operates in over 20,000 villages in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 

Initially, local volunteers will help to identify adolescent girls and young women who have permanently dropped out of school, and will then help them in enrolling, and attending, secondary schools.

Massive Barriers for Girls Trying to Finish School

The program’s focus is on girls, as the education gap among the gender is drastic. According to the National Herald India, 40% of adolescent girls aged 15-18 do not have access to any kind of schooling.

While this is in part due to antiquated gender norms, access to secondary education is also challenging due to lack of infrastructure, facilities and resources. The new program hopes to tackle all of the above.

For example, one of the largest barriers is distance between school locations and individual’s home in rural locations, which the program will alleviate by setting up remote learning centers directly in certain villages where the girls live.

Another major obstacle is the lack of qualified female teachers in many rural areas. Many girls are taught by male teachers who may not understand their unique needs.

For example, period stigma and period poverty often cause girls to stop attending school, with an estimated 23% dropping out of school permanently when they start menstruating, according to a recent health survey.

Overall, the lack of education leads to problems later on, and the importance of a strong fundamental education cannot be overstated. Education leads to self-confidence, and the necessary skillset to be financially independent.

Financial Independence for Generations of Women

Project Pragati

According to the Educate Girls official website, “66 million girls in India (15-25 years old) are permanently at-risk of never completing their secondary education. As a result, they are unable to access even entry level jobs or apply for formal loans to set-up small scale businesses.”

By helping girls to complete 10th grade examinations, Educate Girls hopes to support more young women into entry-level jobs, traditional loans, further education, and vocational training to help them become financially independent. 

Safeena Husain, Founder and Board Member of Educate Girls, said “For us, 2022 was about progress, about pushing our ambitious goal to provide education to every girl in India. With Project Pragati, it is our aim to ensure young women who have no hopes of being in school get a second chance at education and build a better life for themselves.”

Project Pragati is doing all it can to make the transition back to school as easy as possible, and has high hopes for the future of its program.

While many students in the program were overlooked by their own community, Project Pragati wants to change that, and change the world in the process.

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