The second year of our relationship with the school has seen enormous progress.
As a result of the great generosity of another meditator-donor, new classrooms have been built.
Outdoor blackboards allow for lessons outside in good weather.
Our dana has enabled the employment of another teacher, a young woman, bringing the total number of teachers to ten and the number of female teachers to two.
The photo at the left is of two of the teachers and the founder and principal, Moti Lal. From left to right, they are Phoolchand (the English teacher), Rekha and Moti Lal.
They’re standing outside the office of the community building in which the school began.
The students are highly motivated, relaxed and happy to engage with visitors and each other. Most of them are boys. In the nursery classes (kindergarten), the numbers of boys and girls are closer to equal. At the time of my visit, there were 61 boys in nursery and 45 girls. By the time they’ve reached fifth grade (the last class taught at the school) the disparity between the genders is marked. In grade four there were 17 boys and only three girls; in grade five, 13 boys and eight girls. The overall attrition rate is in itself of great concern; the attrition rate for girls is the greater. All up, at this time, there were 102 girls and 198 boys.
Our most recent donation will go towards addressing this inequality. Moti Lal was happy to move in this direction. He has set up a ‘Women to Women’ committee consisting of the two female teachers and two nuns from Lumbini. This committee will decide on the best method of moving towards this outcome. I’ve suggested scholarships for girls who stay on at school as this would give their families money to pay for the labour the girls otherwise provide, but the decision is entirely up to the committee. Details of their decisions will be noted here when they are available.
It’s important to be realistic about the outcomes. The school serves an area of extreme poverty and gender discrimination is deeply entrenched in the culture: even a small increase in the number of girls able to stay at school will be both difficult to achieve and valuable.