Post by Anup Aryal & Report by Sirjana Tamang
The beginning of the school year is an exciting and anxious time for both parents and students. Resource utilization and decisions making stress for parents along with excitement, uncertainty and anxiety for students are to be expected. As millions of students in the United States get ready to start another school year, students in Nepal were well in their academic year. Thanks to our dedicated staff, support team and volunteers along with your help, we were able to ensure another successful back to school. Now, it was time to go back to schools to see the progress.
As a key aspect of our GYAN (Knowledge) component of the foundation, it is critical to support the entire educational process of our scholars form the start of the school year all the way through graduation. Home and school visits are key processes, which allow the foundation to:
- Provide support to students to let them know that their Didis (mentors) are there for support and guidance
- Collect and analyze student grades and examination results to track progress and spot potential trends
- Speaking with students to better understand individual situation and challenges
- Meet with parents/guardians to better understand home life challenges
- See the environment where we operate to better understand community challenges
- Be an ambassador for the power of education within the school, the family home, and the broader community
This past month we visited four partner schools. Many thanks to our dedicated Didis Sirjana, Tamanna, Roshana, Roshani, and Ranjanafor visiting various schools and collecting vital information. With 47 new girls from various backgrounds attending partner schools, these visits allow the foundation to keep track on progress and challenges. Due to some challenges faced by the current cohort of girls, some themes are emerging:
- Students lacking adequate time to study due to household chores, school travel time etc.,
- Students doing well in some subjects but struggling in others
- Home life often challenging with some of the girls having less support due to parents not being able to be at home
School visits allow the foundation to understand the situation scholars are facing, it allows us to see how our partner schools are doing and showcases our Didis are true ambassadors for the importance of education. Didis were able to speak with students and encourage to do better in the future exams, provide emotional support and talk to parents to provide the support girls need at home to do well in school.
Knowing that we have so many new girls from various background in the program, we are being more intentional in bringing their parents and guardians together. These sessions have the goal of introducing the program and our mission, but also setting expectations of family support for the girls’ education. In our last meeting, 13 parents/guardians came together where we reiterated the importance of why their daughters need a holistic education and we also asked some questions to determine individual situation such as:
- How is the environment at home for study?
- Does the student share their own views and feelings with the guardians?
- Do you speak about your own educational experience?
- Are you able to observe the results of your daughter’s education?
- What’s your reaction if they didn’t secure good marks in exam?
- Do the bahinis use social media or not?
- Do the bahinis interact with members of society?
- What do you think about our program that should be added for next coming years?
- What’s your expectation towards the Rukmini Foundation ?
Throughout the process, as these questions were answered, somethings were becoming clear. Students living with their own parents were better supported than students living with guardians. Students also had a high level of anxiety towards taking exams. Fortunately, most students lacked access to social media, so it wasn’t a distraction in their learning process as has been reported in some of our other partner schools. Lastly, the parents/guardians reiterated that programs like this and additional support to Bahinis would help them get better at school and do well when it comes to taking exams.
We learn a lot from these visits, and we continue to try to improve based on what we learn. However, we could not do this work without the wonderful support of our donors, so a big THANK YOU for making these types of support programs possible, which allows us to empower girls through education.