Join Divya in support of Every book I read helps educate a child in India (St Louis)
Girl’s education is a cause that is very close to my heart. I have been so lucky to be born in a family and grow up in a society that does not let my gender prevent me from attaining an excellent education. My experiences from eight years at Hockaday, a school dedicated to this mission has shown me firsthand why creating intelligent, self-assured young women is so important.
There are millions of girls in India who do not have any semblance of the opportunities that I and all of my peers in the US enjoy. This despite the many studies which have shown that educating a girl is a sure way to improving the quality of life of a community. Educating a girl, especially one in her late teens and early twenties, gives her the power to make her own decisions, the power to decide what is right for her own family, and the power to shape her own future. Educating a young woman will ensure that her children get the opportunity for education in the future. Educating young women leads to a substantially lower occurrence of poverty, disease, and violence in households and around her community.
Given all of the above, I am dedicating my fundraiser to Second Chance, Pratham’s program that empowers older girls and young women who have dropped out of school to get their high school diploma.
In 2014, nearly 4,000 girls assisted by Pratham appeared for the (GED equivalent) exam and more than 70% of those passed, which is a rate higher than the national average. The same techniques and innovative approaches that have enabled Pratham to improve child literacy and education rates in India are also helping Pratham be more successful in helping girls earn their high school diploma.
If my efforts to inform opinion and raise funds for this program in the US can result in even one additional girl getting her high school diploma, I will be so happy. Pratham needs only $500 on average to tutor a girl for 2 years and prepare her to take the exam.
To the Pratham girls in India I will say study hard and have faith that you can do this. To my US friends who are in high school right now, I will recommend the same, with a caveat. Along with academic excellence and a strong work ethic (as evidenced by high GPA and SAT/ACT scores), you will need some unusual extra-curricular activities and a committed community service record to impress the college admissions officers. Your essays and recommendation letters are equally important factors. And finally the institutional priorities of a college have to be in your favor. Just do your best and leave the rest. Upon graduation, the right college awaits.
Once you have been accepted by the colleges, here is my advice for choosing the right college. Just as with school, classes and teachers, the right college for you is all about the right fit. Like wearing a comfortable pair of shoes, like being at home in your favorite PJs. Once you have determined your top 3 or 4 choices (from amongst the ones which have admitted you), you should visit each one of those college and get “a feel” for each campus – the students, the professors, the administrators, the cafeterias, the dorms, the vibe et al. And then close your eyes, take a deep breath and on a ranking-neutral basis, choose the one that feels right for you. And for the next four years, you will find yourself the happiest there!
November 30th 2014
Having recently survived the grueling college application process, I have the following words of advice for my younger friends.
Do your best academically, aim for great grades and ace the SAT/ACT exams, because without these you are not even in the running for admission to any of the top tier colleges. But as far as extracurricular activities are concerned, just do what you really enjoy. At the end of the day, the college admission decision process is opaque and inscrutable, and one never knows what “institutional priorities” a particular college may have in that particular year (of your high school graduation), so you might as well spend time doing things you like doing. Because trying to second guess what colleges might like to see on your application could be useless anyway.
Also, as you strive to get admission in the best colleges on your list, it is worthwhile to remember that there are millions of girls in India for whom even completing their high school education is a distant dream, forget going to college. And be grateful for your good fortune and all the opportunities that await as you pursue your dreams in a college of your dreams.
I am writing this essay as part of my Passage to College Fundraiser for Pratham. I am championing Pratham’s Second Chance program which helps underprivileged girls in India complete their high school education and get a state certification (equivalent to our GED).
Many girls in India have to drop out of school during or soon after middle school for many reasons. Government run public high schools are not as widespread as middle schools, and are mainly located in larger towns and regional centers – far away from villages and smaller towns. The long distance, excessive time taken to reach and return from school as well as security (or lack thereof) make it easy for most families to keep their young daughters at home instead. This way at least the girls will help with the housework, and anyway they are going to get married off soon! The loss of human potential as a result of millions of such decisions is quite heartbreaking.
Pratham is giving these girls a Second Chance at education and hopefully a better life. The way it works is: Pratham hires and trains tutors who go to the villages/towns and teach interested girls the basic stuff. Once a month, these girls travel in groups with their respective tutors to a regional center where Pratham-trained subject specialists instruct them in history, geography, science, math et al which the girls need to learn before they can appear for the state level exam. During the rest of the month, they practice with their tutor nearer to home. It takes 2 years or more, and a lot of hard work on the part of all involved for a girl to successfully complete her high school education and examinations. On average, Pratham estimates it costs $500 for one girl to get her high school diploma. This includes cost of books, teachers, travel, fees etc.
When I think about the likely benefits that could accrue as a result of one girl getting functionally educated, this amount seems really well worth spent. I hope that you will agree and support my fundraising efforts for this important cause.