Mathma Gandhi once said, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
In Nepal, students at Jyotidaya School are proving that true.
As the evening settles in Chapagaun of Lalitpur, a few women appear at local Jyotidaya School. Some are young and others are much older, but all come to the school to learn. The class is unusual in the sense that not just students but even their teachers are different.
The teachers are mostly ninth grade girls at Jyotidaya. They are part of Growing Service Leader (GSL) program, a ten month long leadership and service learning program run by Anuvuti International – a Sarvodaya Nepal’s partner.
The first phase of the program consisted leadership and life skill workshops where students learnt about goal setting, academic success, teamwork and communication and presentation skills. The interactive workshops made use of various games as learning techniques.
The second phase was all about understanding community and developing service program.
At Jyotidaya, the students identified illiteracy as a problem in their community.
“When discussing problems in the community we had a laundry list of things,” says Izu Regmi, a ninth grader at Jyotidaya. “But when we looked at it, we realized that education was the root cause of all the problems.”
To understand the issue further they went door to door, collected feedback, and found that illiteracy is pervasive in the community. So they decided to conduct literacy class to educate illiterate people in the community.
But it was not simply an intellectual exercise. For some students the problem began at their homes as the mothers of many of the participating students themselves were illiterate. So they decided to bring their mothers to the evening classes. “My mom also comes to the class,” says Nabina Deshar, a ninth grader.
“I am glad our daughters are taking these initiatives,” shares Mana Maya Deshar, Nabina’s mom. “Even today I can’t travel on my own or do anything,” she adds. When women can’t come to the school, students even go to homes and tutor women one to one.
“Earlier, I used to think it was for the adults to address all the social problems,” adds Izu of Jyotidaya. “I have now realized that we too have responsibility, and if we choose so, we can also make a difference,” she adds.