Comic Art Workshop with Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Mirzapur

150 students from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidalaya, Mirzapur are now part of a grassroots comic art campaign. SHEF organized workshops for the girls in KGBVs that enabled them in expressing themselves on the issues related to their lives in the form of illustrations. As part of the workshop, all the students developed a four-frame comic strip. These Comics were based on issues such as Domestic Violence, Right to Education, Alcoholism, Child Marriage, Gender based Discrimination and safety of adolescent girls.

Trained girls will now go back to their schools and continue to work with their peers in groups. These groups will meet periodically to discuss the issues related to their academic and personal lives and voice their concerns using the medium of comic art.

The work of students will be showcased in a series of exhibitions scheduled next month in Mirzapur and also at a grand event in Lucknow.

A Kick Starter to Issue Based Drama with Students of KGBV, Mirzapur

In an effort to empower the adolescent girls through active participation, Study Hall Educational Foundation in collaboration with UNICEF, organized a two-day drama training for the teachers of all the KGBVs in Mirzapur. The training program aimed at building the capacity of KGBV teachers to provide the girls with a platform to express themselves freely on the issues related to their lives.

The training was held in Varanasi on 27-28 September 2014 and was conducted by the theater group experts of SHEF. The teachers gained practical knowledge of various forms of drama and its application as tool to entertain, engage, empower and spread awareness. The training included detailed discussions on the process and technique of producing a drama presentation. Through examples, trainers explained concepts of script writing, character development, make-up and costumes. They learnt how to use inexpensive props to enhance the overall appeal of the story. Live demonstrations illustrated the importance of body language and speech modulation to evoke emotions. A discussion on the dismal situation of girls especially in rural parts of the country led to identification of many issues and the teachers were encouraged to express their views through drama. The teachers took part in group activities and scripted their own dramas. They enacted these impromptu creations and it was heartening to see how quickly they adopted the techniques shared during the training.

The teachers now feel equipped with a powerful tool which will enable the girls in their schools voice their concerns and in-turn will bring a change in the world around them.

Girls Empowerment Training for KGBVs in Rampur and Budaun

Study Hall Educational Foundation in collaboration with UNICEF has under taken an initiative to empower girls enrolled in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya(KGBV) at Rampur and Budaun district. The program was initiated with a 2 day long residential training for 25 KGBV teachers from Rampur and Budaun district. Two batches of KGBV teachers were trained through 8th September 2014 to 11th September 2014. The prime focus of the training was to enable teachers to conduct dialogues with their students that are contextual to student’s life issues. The training also focused on how to resolve students’ life issues and elaborated on the legal intricacies that need attention in severe cases.
Two teachers from each KGBV were invited along with local community members such as members from local nonprofits, child welfare committee members and members of Police Department. These community members are now part of KGBV teacher’s network and shall now be in touch with the KGBV teachers for resolution of severe cases of abuse and violence. The trainers drew incidents from personal lives where they had faced oppression and discrimination and mapped them to situation of girls and women in our country as reflected in the latest reports. It was an attempt to inspire teachers to dream of a different and gender neutral future for their students.

Drama and Role Play are best tools for initiating dialogues. They are a great help for sending a complex message across. Role play and Drama is an integral part of these student teacher dialogues. The training dedicated a session for teachers to develop a short issue based drama. The session was immediately followed by a in depth discussion on using drama as a tool to communicate to parents on sensitive issues.

Trainer shared the design of the ‘Empowerment Toolkit’ that was developed and tested at Prerna Girls School. Trainers clearly defined the definition of much used and theorized word ‘Empowerment’. The trainers elaborated that empowerment is becoming aware of one’s oppression, understanding and analyzing the causes of oppression and taking action to overcome.

An important addition to the training was a session on superstition and how it has restricted personal freedom of women and girls for ages. The session on superstition compelled the teachers to think deeply about how many superstitions have deeper gender specific rules. However, the trainers did discourage all superstitious practices.

KGBV teachers now have a new role to play at their schools. They are now advocates of the girls’ rights. To help them brave this new challenge they were equipped with literature that elaborates on legal girl rights, digital media to initiate student teacher dialogues, posters & planners to stay the course and a support from Study Hall Educational Foundation to fight the battle shoulder to shoulder.

Girls Empowerment Training for KGBVs in Maharajganj, Balrampur and Shravasti

Study Hall Educational Foundation, in collaboration with UNICEF, conducted a two day training for the teachers of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas of Maharajganj, Balrampur and Shravasti. Participants were invited in two batches – Maharajganj on 20th and 21st August and Shravasti and Balrampur on the 22nd and 23rd. The training was conducted at Hotel Royal Residency, Gorakhpur and the training hall was done up with a banner and bright posters.

After the registration, the participants were welcomed by the trainers. They were asked to fill a baseline form. Though many wardens had been trained for conducting Meena Manch, none had attended a training concentrating on empowerment. Then, an icebreaker game was played. The participants got to know each other started talking freely. In the first session, the participants were made to understand the need for empowerment and concept of Critical Dialogues was explained. Through the shocking statistics in her presentation, Dr Sahni, President and CEO of the foundation, showed how grim the situation is for underprivileged girls. After this session, the participants got into groups and discussed one major challenge faced by the girls. The groups then shared the gist of their discussion and suggested solutions. The next session dealt with superstitions and rituals that oppress the girls and women. A very lively debate ensured full participation of all the trainees. A video of a critical dialogue session was shown and the trainees understood the need to incorporate drama during the dialogues. The groups were given time to devise a short play based on the problem they had taken up for discussion. They were also provided with material for making a poster based on the theme they had taken for the discussion.

The next morning saw the participants sharing their views with their new friends. CWC members and local NGOs were also invited. While they were registering, the KGBV teachers watched a video about domestic violence and had an intense discussion about it. Then the new participants were introduced to the KGBV teachers through a pair game. After this, there was a brief revision of the Aarohini programme with emphasis on building a supportive network for the girls. Findings of the Vulnerability mapping report were shared to substantiate the need for support. Now it was time for unleashing of the teachers’ creativity. They presented the plays they had prepared. Despite the lack of make up, props or a stage, the plays had an impact and were received very well. The best play and the best poster got prizes. The NGOs and the CWC members had an interactive session with the teachers where they explained the nature and scope of their work and how they could help. The next session was even more enlightening where the participants got to know the important laws relating to the girls, their rights, recent changes and their impact on girls.

The training ended with awarding of certificates and handing over of the Aarohini tool kit, comprising of critical dialogue DVDs, a calendar, posters and printouts from a gender handbook for teachers. Both days, the participants were literally kept on their toes with impromptu question answer sessions using a ball. They also loved the three songs they learnt. All the 52 KGBV teachers and 24 NGO and CWC members were happy with the food and stay arrangements and sincerely appreciated the efforts of the caring and friendly team from Digital Study hall.

Rally against Child Marriage

Study Hall Educational Foundation launched a web campaign “India’s Daughters” with this year’s theme “Child Marriage”. All Study Hall Educational Foundation partner schools were invited to participate in the campaign by sending articles, essays, poems, and illustrations. The web campaign has been active since last two months and recently culminated into school’s organizing rallies in their communities. It was a big community mobilization led by girls of KGBVs in the form of rallies organized by all the schools individually. Study Hall Educational Foundation worked closely with schools to help the schools prepare street plays, slogans, posters and on 20th February 2014 took out a rally in their villages.

On the same day between 10am to 12pm, 44 KGBVs in 4 districts of Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow, Mirzapur, Jaunpur and Sonbhadra) organized rallies and signature campaign against the Child Marriage. The KGBVs engaged parents, community members, local village authorities, official from administration and through their slogans and street plays spread awareness about the harmful consequences of Child Marriage. Over 22,000 people have been touched by this first of its kind community based intervention across four districts and many more through the online campaign. The parents turned up in huge numbers and supported the cause by pledging not to get their girls married before the legal age and allowing them to study as much as they want. Last year, Study Hall Educational Foundation organized a Community Mobilization Training for the teachers and wardens of the KGBVs to prepare them for effective parent interactions and organizing rallies. The efforts of the Foundation and KGBV staff have proven very effective after such an overwhelming response from the communities.

Issue Based Drama Festival

Study Hall Educational Foundation celebrated International Day of the Girl Child by organizing an Issue Based Drama Festival on 11th October 2013. Girls from three KGBVs of Mirzapur district, through their intense, issue based plays, compelled the audience to think how much more needs to be done to empower these girls for facing the challenges in their lives. This festival is part of Foundation’s Girls Empowerment program with KGBVs in collaboration with UNICEF. A poem written by the students of Prerna Girls School and an inspirational song added colours of joy and hope to the program. All the distinguished guests lauded the efforts of the girls who had stepped out of their villages for the first time and the sincerity and dedication of their teachers.

First Prize
KGBV Majhwa,
Play – Parivartan
Theme – Domestic Violence, Child Marriage, Dowry

Second Prize
KGBV Chaanbe
Play – Astitva
Theme – Dowry, Child Marriage

Third Prize
KGBV Rajgarh
Play – Deep Jal Uthe
Theme – Benefits of Education

Press Report

Recognizing Girls Rights and Creating Brighter Futures

Subhasini is a student in KGBV Malihabad in Ghola village. She is 15 years old and has 3 sisters and one brother. Her parents work as laborers and earn no more than $72 per month. Two of her sisters are illiterate and got married at the age of 13 and her father is an alcoholic.

Last year when Subhasini visited her home during the winter vacation, she was shocked by the news that her parents have identified a groom for her. The bad experiences of her elder sisters’ early marriages were fresh in her mind and she pleaded with her parents not to get her married and let her continue with her studies.

Inspired and motivated by DSH’s “Girl Empowerment Program”, the teachers decided to intervene and save the child from an illegal marriage. Teachers sensitized her parents about the evils of Child Marriage and informed that it’s a criminal offence. Counseling sessions continued till the parents were convinced and they promised to get Subhasini married only after the legal age.

Today, Subhasini is a sensitive and empowered child happily continuing her education and moving towards a better, brighter future.