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October 2015 Summary

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The Importance of Ensuring the Well-Being of Adolescent Girls

Adolescent girls, especially in rural parts of India are ignorant of various physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty. Traditional practices and cultural barriers often limit their freedom to question or share their feelings with parents and other family members, leaving them full of curiosities, suspicion and myths. The month of October was dedicated to providing Life Skills training to adolescent girls. They expressed a strong desire to learn the scientific facts about physical and psychological changes, personal hygiene and myths, especially about the menstrual cycle.

Life Skills training was very useful. Many of our misconceptions on the menstrual cycle and the myths related to this were cleared up. We now know that the menstrual cycle is a normal process like breathing or eating. This education was quite surprising. Girls in our society don’t get an opportunity to discuss issues related to personal health and hygiene. I learned many new things about my own body. Personal hygiene matters. The knowledge we gained in this training was very useful and will benefit our lives. We will share this information with others.

~ Student Feedback After Life Skills Training

Key differences in the performance of School Management Committees (SMCs) were observed between the EGG program schools in the two districts. SMCs in the Udham Singh Nagar (USN) district were more proactive in completing their school development plans to improve infrastructure, facilities and the quality of teaching and learning. USN committees completed 26 out of 75 plans during October. In the Haridwar (HRW) district, fewer SMCs in the schools were active in completing action plans. As EGG’s program in HRW is newer and began about six months old, some schools in this district are still a challenge. Getting SMC members together for a meeting can be a grueling task. Lack of political willingness and corrupt practices often result in inefficient and dysfunctional committees. EGG’s role in activating SMCs and improving the schools, especially in traditional, tribal areas is sometimes a daunting challenge.

EGG works in remote areas where most people live below the poverty line. Each day is a struggle for bread and butter for them and their families. Sometimes the opportunity cost for participating in village education meetings is almost equivalent to a day’s wages. Still, EGG has seen increasing participation by parents in these meetings. In a total of 85 village meetings that were held in October, 1,236 people were reached to support general school reform and girls’ education. The fact that communities are increasing their participation in village meetings reflects their growing interest in making schools work for both boys and girls.