The Aarohini Model

The Aarohini Initiative's process of empowerment is based in the firm belief that: i.) the process of empowerment must be accompanied by a critical shift in environment and ii.) teachers are agents of change. Thus, the core values of the program are channeled through the teachers, who are then responsible for catalyzing transformation in their students and communities, ultimately leading to positive life outcomes. This is accomplished in 3 stages:

1. Teacher Trainings

The Aarohini Initiative’s training program consists of a two-day teacher training with a focus on gender, followed by at least 2 years of teacher mentoring, monitoring & evaluation. As part of their participation, teachers are provided with an Aahrohini toolkit, which contains teacher handbooks, a student workbook, posters on gender issues, and video examples of critical dialogues and issue-based drama from Prerna Girls School.

The initial training is based on two main components, the Critical Feminist Pedagogy and Community Mobilization. During the training, teachers receive instruction on topics such as how to conduct a critical dialogue with students, how to effectively use issue-based drama, and how to use the accompanying teaching aids provided in their toolkit. Teachers also receive instruction on the legal rights of women and children.

Six months later, the same teachers are invited to a two-day follow-up training to assess how the teachers are faring, identify the challenges they are facing in implementation, and assess the effectiveness of critical dialogue sessions with students and parents. During this time teachers also receive further training in facilitating dialogue and community mobilization. Teachers meet with local NGOs, police officials, and other services to give them more resources. They also build a 6 month plan to make their engagement with students and the community effective. These refresher trainings also act as feedback and mentoring spaces, responding to any questions and doubts that have arisen upon implementing the Aarohini curriculum for six months.

As mentioned above, teachers continue to receive mentoring and support for a minimum of two years after the initial training. Aarohini representatives maintain monthly contact with the teachers through the Tele-Mentoring Cell (TMC), launched in 2016. Its five staff members manage the relationship with trained teachers to assess and guide their progress, providing them with planning support as needed. These calls also allow teachers the opportunity to report cases of child marriage, domestic violence and molestation, which are then carefully resolved with help from local actors and agencies.

2. Critical Dialogue Sessions

Upon returning to their schools, teachers conduct weekly discussions and activities with students using role-play and other forms of creative expression on issues that affect and limit their lives. This fosters self awareness in the students and provides them with a supportive environment in which they can raise questions, vocalize opinions, share experiences, and learn how to challenge discriminatory practices. It is a safe space to share and ask questions that are taboo and are not discussed at home or in school, such as domestic violence and patriarchy. The continued use of dialogue and engagement builds the agency of girls as autonomous individuals and mobilizes the support of the community for protecting the rights of girls and enabling them to pursue their goals and aspirations.

3. Community Action