By Nikhat Perveen ANI | 9 months ago

Patna, Apr.5 : The Bihar government recently announced distribution of sanitary napkins among girls in government schools in an effort to check their dropout rate and to impart a lesson in health and hygiene.

Such announcements often trigger debates about the extent to which such schemes help the intended beneficiaries. Besides the announcement, one other factor that plays a vital role in the success or failure of a scheme is the involvement of the beneficiaries, their awareness and their desire to benefit from the scheme.

The answer may come from the past where to address the issue of high dropout rates of girls from schools after the eighth grade, a bicycle program for young girls, Mukhyamantri Balika Bicycle Yojana (MBBY), was launched in 2007 where young girls pursuing higher education were given a bicycle for traveling to school.

Within a few years, the school dropout rate for women was almost halved. The fact that the young girls came forward to avail of the scheme and continue their studies shows that if the Government takes care of the expected hindrances, the girls can certainly go places.

Another scheme that was announced in 2007 to benefit the girls in Bihar is the Mukhyamantri Vidyarthi Protsahan Yojana (MVPY). This scheme not only provides financial aid to young students but helps them excel in the field of education, to dream big and work even harder to achieve them.

Keeping the scholarship of Rupees ten thousand in mind, provided under this scheme to the students who score first division in Class 10 exams, a group of eleven young girls embarked on a journey of hard work and perseverance in 2012. A year later, they became an inspiration for their entire school by achieving what they had dreamt of - winning that scholarship.

"Our teachers always motivated us and kept our faith alive. Efforts never go wasted, they would tell us, but we understood its true meaning only after scoring a first division in our exams," shared Farhana Manzar, who topped the examination in her school by scoring 71.4pc marks in High School. Following the suggestions of her teachers, Farhana studied with a single-minded focus on receiving the scholarship so that she could help her parents.

"I have always dreamt of becoming a doctor. This dream had slowly begun to die due to the poor financial condition of my parents that put a question mark on whether I could continue my studies after Class 10. But today, I thank God that I will be able to proceed towards my dream of becoming a doctor."

Talking about the income of her family, Farhana said that her father is the sole bread earner of a big family. Their house of two rooms costs them a rental of five thousand rupees, eating a large chunk of the income. Despite all these difficult circumstances, her family provided her with the best comforts they could afford. Most importantly, she had the room to herself so that she could study without distraction.

"I owe my success to my parents," she says simply.

Like Farhana, Seema also scored first division but unlike Farhana who had the support of her parents, Seema has been supporting her mother for the last three years after the death of her father. Seema is not only shouldering the responsibilities of looking after her mother but is helping her financially. She has been giving tuitions in subjects like English and Hindi for the last three years. "This will continue till I become a full time teacher in an English medium school," says a determined Seema, who is happy to receive the scholarship.

Uzma, their fellow classmate, is another such inspiring example. At a tender age, this young girl has shown remarkable maturity towards life, through many testing times. Uzma, always a sincere student, wishes to become a computer science engineer and make her mother, a domestic help, proud. Uzma's father divorced her mother when she was barely two years old. Her mother in turn wishes to support her daughter in every possible way to achieve her dream.

"I do not miss my father. The love and affection that I have received from my mother has been an immense blessing. In times like these, when inflation is high and people consider educating girls a waste of money, my mother is working hard day and night to educate me" , says Uzma who started to teach the girls of her locality area after completing high school in order to help her mother financially. This scholarship is just another step towards achieving her dreams.

Each one of these eleven girls has lived her share of struggle and, winning that struggle, has reached this stage. Their struggle was finally acknowledged and appreciated on December 31 last year when they received the State sponsored scholarships - seen by each as a ticket to their dreams.

According to Mohammed Safeeruddin, Principal, Haji Abdussamad Urdu Girls' High School, last year's result had set a new record. In 2013, 20 girls appeared for the board exams, out of which 11 scored first-division while the others passed with second division. For him, it is a matter of great pride to see these bright young students.

"When I look back, the journey seems almost unbelievable. It is the same Haji Abdussamad Urdu Girls' High School that started 27 years ago, in 1987, under a huge tree near the famous old mosque with only seven teachers and 40-50 students," recalls school's Vice-Principal Mrs. Rehana Khatoon.

This school has produced women of substance, who are working at par with their male counterparts. One such student is Nusrat Parveen who received her MBBS degree from the renowned Aligarh Muslim University in 2002 and is currently working in AIIMS, Delhi. Similarly, Gufrana Naheed, another alumnus of the school, topped in B.Ed. examination from Jamia Millia Islamia University. In 2007, Ayesha Parveen scored 75pc marks in Bihar Board Examination, a record that has not been broken by any other student of this school as yet. Ayesha graduated in Psychology from Patna Women's College and received her Master's degree from Aligarh Muslim University.

The Charkha Development Communication network feels that if the Government keeps in mind the challenges being faced by disadvantaged communities while drafting the policy and decides to reach out to them, it will receive huge response as there is no dearth of talent in our country - provided people have the opportunity to display the wonders they are capable of.

(Posted on 05-04-2014)

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