Responding to a Need

Though for KGBV students receiving an education is undoubtedly a big step towards escaping the vicious cycle of poverty and societal disparity, it is only one part of the solution.

The KGBV scheme was launched in 2004 by the government of India, which defines 'KGBV as ... residential schools at upper primary level ... for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and minorities ... in educationally backward blocks (EBBs).' The Scheme targets rural areas where female literacy is below the national average (65.46%); the gender gap in literacy is above the national average (16.86%) (Census 2011); and/or, remote areas with a large number of out-of-school girls. The scheme provides for a minimum quota of 75% of the seats for girls belonging to SC, ST, OBC or minority communities and priority for the remaining 25%, is accorded to girls from families below poverty line (estimated at INR 32 or 0.49 US $ per capita per day expenditure).

Teachers in KGBVs are undertrained and too resource-starved to positively influence the 'life outcomes' of the enrolled girls. Compounding these girls' plight are two factors - the fragility of parent-teacher relationships due to apathy, and the societal norms that do not value girls nor their education. The below points were highlighted in a National Consultation by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), along with concerns regarding the uncertain future of KGBV students:
With girls trapped in an environment unresponsive to their needs and fuelled by apathy, schooling fails to positively affect their life trajectories. The cycle of repression in their lives is not broken by education, nor are the promises of empowerment, autonomy and respect afforded by education met. Instead, girls continue to be vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and forced child marriages.

Recognizing this, Aarohini has expanded the concept of education to ensure that the focus is not just on achieving learning outcomes but also on empowering the students to achieve better life outcomes. The program thus enables the girls to perceive themselves as autonomous individuals, and aims to develop their capacity to resist discrimination and fight for their rights.