The Initiative's Growth and Impact

Amplification

During its first year of implementation (2011-2012), the Aarohini Initiative trained a total of 72 teachers from 36 KGBVs. In 2014, Aarohini reached out to a total of 100 KGBVs in Uttar Pradesh, spread across 9 districts. As a result of the program's success, in 2015, the UP state government invited SHEF to train teachers from all 746 KGBV across the state. This process was initiated in January 2016 and culminated in 2017, rendering a grand total of 1473 teachers trained. As a result, Aarohini has successfully reached the lives of 46,000 students and their communities across the state since the program’s inception.

A Chain of Impact: Teachers > Students > Parents and Communities

Teachers are at the center the Aarohini program. The program hinges on the understanding teachers gain on the effects of gender discrimination, their commitment to creating safe spaces for their students, and their belief that they can make a difference in the lives of these girls through dialogue.

Through the teachers, who initiate and facilitate an environment of awareness, empathy and dialogue, the impact of Aarohini is transferred to girls at KGBVs. Through this process the program aims to build the capacity of students to start expressing their experiences of gender discrimination and question patriarchal norms in their own lives.

Since SHEF bases the success of the Aarohini methodology on the premise that there must also be a shift in the girls' environment in order to produce change, Aarohini strives to ensure that the communities the girls will eventually return to are educated and empowered enough to be able to support the rights of adolescent girls. The program aims for teachers to conduct regular parent-teacher meetings that address gender as a means of building a culture of dialogue and empathy that will ultimately foster an environment supportive of girls' rights and equality.

Evaluating Success

Aarohini's success relies on catalyzing the initiative and agency of the teachers who, despite their busy schedules and tremendous workload, have to be motivated to implement this program in their schools. A recent impact evaluation of the program demonstrated that the core element of the program, the critical dialogue, is being implemented in 100% of schools, which indicates that the program has struck a chord with the teachers and students. All of the schools evaluated have also reported using the Aarohini handbook and strongly recommended activities such as drama and role play in the classrooms. Additionally, Aarohini sessions, though not mandated by the government, are conducted every Saturday in 9 out of 10 schools visited and appear to be deeply embedded in the KGBV culture.

This kind of change and impact is intrinsically linked to the on-site perceptions of the program, especially those of the teachers, who are the program's key agents of change. According to teachers, Aarohini not only provides them with methodologies and tools for engaging their students, but also the vocabulary to address gender issues, a personal connection of the issue to their own lives as women, and the support and motivation to effect change.

Change in Action: Stories of Success

Our executive and counselor receive an average of 25 calls a day from teachers seeking counselling regarding the Aarohini curriculum and social issues like child marriage, domestic violence, molestation and the right to choose. Thanks to this system, our staff is able to take action and better support the teachers. Below are 2 examples of occasions in which our team has successfully aided teachers in the prevention of child marriage.

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On May 20, 2017, Poonam, a teacher in the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Behraich contacted the Aarohini team over the phone and told that Tabassum, the elder sister of a student in her school, was being forced into child marriage. Reacting promptly the Aarohini team members contacted Tabassum gathered information about the said incident. She did not want to get married and added that her elder sister had also been forced into a child marriage. She now has two kids and has been battling with health issues ever since. Tabbassum’s father has passed away and because of financial problems she was unable to continue her studies after class 5.

Aarohini representatives tried to talk Tabbassum’s mother and counselled her that Tabassum’s marriage was not the solution to her problems. After the first call, Tabbassum’s mother could not be reached again and Aarohini representatives contacted her neighbour, who informed that Tabbassum was 15 years old and was definitely not ready for marriage.

Aarohini representatives then reached out to the child marriage protection officer in Behraich and appraised him about the issue but the officer refused to help saying that there was not enough time to stop the marriage.

The next person to be contacted for help was the district magistrate of Behraich who ordered the police to visit the parents and take necessary action. The parents of the girls showed a document to the police which stated that Tabassum was 18 years old. She was also forced to come in front of the police and say that she was of legal age and wanted to get married. The police had no option but to return empty handed. Not willing to give up Aarohini representatives called a local NGO to act. After liasoning with the local nonprofit at Behraich Aarohini team was able to counsel the parents and stop the marriage.

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A teacher, Anita Srivastava, from KGBV Bansdih, Ballia approached Aarohini team for help in stopping two child marriages. She informed us that the girls - Priya Yadav and Preeti Yadav - are cousins and their grandfather wanted to see them get married in his lifetime. When teacher got to know about this, she went to their home and tried to convince them against child marriage. However her words fell on deaf ears.

Aarohini representatives spoke to the Senior Superintendent of Police in Ballia and asked him to take action. The police went to girl’s house and told their parents not to indulge in this unlawful practice. As a result, their grandfather and the girls’ would be in laws come to the school and signed an affidavit which stated that they will not marry the girls till they are 18 and would never be involved in child marriage.


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Each case of resolution of the above-mentioned issues acts as a case of lawfulness in remote communities. As the air of lawfulness sets in, the illegal activities are condemned and looked down upon by the community, allowing us to tread towards creating a just and equitable world.