Syndicate content

I am Kusum Kumari. Next Year I Will Be in Class 8

Onno Ruhl's picture

It was not my first visit to a Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV). Every time I go to one, I come out inspired. What a great program this is: many thousands of girls who have missed the education boat are being brought back into the school system all over India!  To me, it is the best part of Sarva Siksha Abiyan (SSA), the Government of India’s very successful Education for All Program.

That day in January, we were in Jehanabad in Bihar. We were sitting in the court yard of the KGBV school watching the karate demonstration the students put up for us. The girls learn karate for self-esteem and self-defense; it is a great thing. During the demo, one of the other girls came up to us.  “I am Kusum”, she said, “I am in class 7.” Her English was perfect, so I complimented her on that. Kusum went back and we continued to watch the karate. When the program was over, Kusum came back to the front, with a determined look on her face. “Next year, I will go to class 8” she said. “I am happy you came to visit my school.”


     

A little later, we were going through the school facilities and looked at the dorms, the kitchen, the class rooms and the generator. We ended up in the multipurpose room for some more demonstrations. While I was watching one of the blind students type the name of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Kusum came up to me again. She now had a very intense look on her face. “I am Kusum Kumari”, she insisted. “My father’s name was Ashok Kumar, my mother’s name Preeti Kumari. They both passed away. I am very happy to be in this school, and next year I will be in class 8. The year after, I want to go to class 9, but I do not know where I will stay.” Kusum burst out in tears, and frankly, I had trouble holding back mine.


See, the issue is, KGBVs bring girls back into the system and take them through classes 7 and 8. The goal of the program is that girls get ready for class 9-12 and hopefully beyond. The only problem is that there is no such program yet for classes 9-12. This leaves orphans and other vulnerable girls like Kusum looking for a place to stay. Hopefully, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), the Government of India’s secondary school program will include a follow up program for girls like Kusum. 

“Thank you so much for visiting our school Sir,” Kusum said when I left.  “I am really happy you came.” She is a really strong girl. I am pretty sure she will find a way to make it.

Photos by Martje van der Heide

Comments

Submitted by Joan Pandit on

Thank you Onno for this blog. I too truly hope that Kusum through her determination and will power will make it to grades 9-12, if she is given the necessary free access to the higher secondary education program and RMSA will include a follow up program. I am a strong believer that it is education that will lift the Region's poor out of the viscious cycle of poverty since it was my State - Maharashtra's education assistance program for low income families that helped and enabled my siblings and me to complete high school and get an under grad degree, thus providing us with the opportunities to get employed and break the cycle of poverty.

Submitted by Aeeree on

Shanta,

SSA is successful in getting kids in school, but learning leaves a lot to be desired. This was a deliberate strategy for the program. We have just completed the design of a third phase of support that will focus squarely on learning outcomes. So hopefully that phase will be successful too.

Thanks for raising this,

hamm this is really good work by world bank. I am 100% appreciate with it's work because with the help of this work many child get education and also some good food which they never get of their weak family position.

Submitted by Pooja on

Onno, this is a touching story and very similar to stories I heard from young people in CAR, except that there is no program at all for girls in that country. Please tell me, does the Bank have any plans of supporting this girls' program - KGBV, maybe through a TF?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yeah.. definitely she will find the path to acquire it and some of the Personal Self Defense program will the people in the society..

Submitted by Shanta on

Onno: Thanks for this inspiring story. I was wondering what indicators you were using to label SSA "very successful". The latest ASER report shows that learning outcomes in rural areas are going down. Karthik Muralidharan's research shows that the mix of inputs in primary education is highly inefficient. And there doesn't seem to be much improvement in teacher absenteeism. Just wondering what I'm missing. Regards, Shanta

Submitted by Onno on

Shanta,

SSA is successful in getting kids in school, but learning leaves a lot to be desired. This was a deliberate strategy for the program. We have just completed the design of a third phase of support that will focus squarely on learning outcomes. So hopefully that phase will be successful too.

Thanks for raising this,

Onno

Submitted by Shanta on

Onno: Getting kids into school is much easier than making sure they learn. It is also politically attractive, as it guarantees jobs for public school teachers, whereas a goal of learning may give private schools an edge. So it is not surprising that enrollment, rather than learning, was the "deliberate strategy of the program." While in an engineering sense, it is true that you need to get kids into school before they can learn, from a political-economy perspective, the two objectives may be very different. The same political interests that delivered universal enrollment may be the obstacle to universal learning. I wonder if the design of the third phase has taken this into account. Cheers, Shanta

Submitted by Onno on

Santha, You are right, although if I may say so a bit in glass half full mode.... But yes, the third phase is squarily aimed at quality. Let's hope it works! Thanks for engaging so actively! Onno

Submitted by Brenda on

Onno, this is a touching story and very similar to stories I heard from young people in CAR, except that there is no program at all for girls in that country. Please tell me, does the Bank have any plans of supporting this girls' program - KGBV, maybe through a TF?

Submitted by Onno on

Brenda,

The Bank is supporting KGBV through our support for SSA, mentioned in the blog. Thanks a lot for your comment.

Onno

Submitted by Amrita Chowdhury on

I had been to some SSA covered model schools last year.Speaking with students actually felt bearing few standard of the average students is far below those in same standard of normal school.Believe a comparative study using other normal school students performance in,
Numerical
English
Social Science
Other Science- based on the standard the student belongs will help understanding the performance gap.
Then measures to improve can be taken.

Submitted by Sonia on

yes this is great work done by world bank. Education in girls is very much important to pull the society and nation, With the help of this programs many girl are getting a good education and also self defiance knowledge. This type of programs will surely create a positive effect towards our future. http://www.indiayouth.in/

Submitted by Manjeet on

Hello there... How to I had been to some SSA covered model schools last year.Speaking with students actually felt bearing few standard of the average students is far below those in same standard of normal school.

Submitted by jony on

Hi Onno
Nice work done by you. Many people are inspired by this story and also from you. i definitely share this story in my social media ac. thanks to share with us. Recruitment

Submitted by Neha Bajaj on

Yeah.. definitely she will find the path to acquire it and some of the Personal Self Defense program will the people in the society..
http://www.aapkisarkarinaukri.com

Add new comment