30 girls, all of them Champions of Higher Education
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"My husband is a hawker. I run a small roadside cosmetics shop to add to the family income. We are not educated and it was our dream to send Saliya to school," Yasmin from Pabal village in Shirur tehsil of Pune district says.
Saliya Inamdar is the first child in their family to pursue school and college education, Yasmin adds, wiping a tear as she recalls their struggle.
Saliya and 29 other girls whose families braved all odds to educate them, are 'Champions of Higher Education'.
These first-generation students in their families are now enrolling for higher studies under the unique 'Champions of Higher Education' project of the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women's Studies Centre at the University of Pune (UoP).
The project has identified 30 girls from 10 districts of Maharashtra, including Pune, who are pursing higher education overcoming obstacles. The project has been undertaken with support from the National Commission for Protection and Child Rights (NCPCR).
The Women's Studies Centre, as a part of the project, has compiled the inspiring stories of these girls by arranging a special workshop in January, and is now preparing the project report to be submitted to the NCPCR by April, to help policymakers.
"The NCPCR has appreciated our project model of the 'Champions of Higher Education', and has been replicated it Rajasthan. The whole idea behind the exercise is to recognise the 'champion' girls who are first generation learners in their family, as their parents are either illiterate or have minimal education. Their journey, and their success stories have common issues and challenges, which they have overcome. The findings of our project would be useful for policymakers to promote enrollment of girls in higher education," Women's Studies Centre director Sharmila Rege said.
"We had prepared a special questionnaire. A workshop 'Writing Lives and Drafting Dreams' was arranged for the girls to pen down their stories. These girls were given different themes to write to bring out their journey of reaching the higher education goal," she said.
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