Breaking Barriers: Shaping the Life Journey of Women and Girls Through Project-Based Learning
India’s landmark Right to Education Act, 2009, made education a fundamental right of every child aged six to 14, yet spending on education as a share of total GDP (gross domestic product) is less than 3 per cent, among the lowest of developing nations (Bridging the learning gap in Indian schools: Is generative AI the answer? Hindu, December 19,2023)
We live in a world where AI is transforming society by automating tasks across the knowledge economy. As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER Centre, 2021), only 67.6 percent of Indian households had access to smartphones in 2021. In areas with the non-availability of digital devices and no access to the internet widens the digital divide. As per Employment Statistics 2023 by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, only 32.8% of females aged 15 years & above in India are anticipating in labor force, as against 77.2% male.
In such a society our focus is on shifting the narrative and transforming the lives of the girls participating in the school and women in the community through Project-Based Learning.
Khushi is a class 9 student from GSSS Thali. Khushi learned to create eco-bricks as part of project-based learning while ensuring active participation in the Zero Plastic Waste School Project. She showcased this solution at the district level and was awarded the Inspire Award with Rs 10,000 for her model of a plastic-free environment. In addition to participating in many initiatives, such as the Kitchen Garden and the 5-Day Water Challenge, Khushi honed various skills, including scientific methodology, rational thought, and creativity.Through this PBL intervention, Khushi gained the confidence and path for connecting her life and education. She also became a role model for other students to find community-driven solutions to the problems.
Puja Saini is a karuna fellow who came from the B village of Jhunjhunu. Breaking Barriers and Shaping the Future: Her story is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity. Growing up in a society where girls had lesser opportunities in comparison to boys, Puja Saini committed to drive “Zero Plastic Campaign” within her community. During this PBL implementation, he independently took decisions for conducting PBL activities, engaging with the community including ensuring equal gender participation. Her efforts not only resulted in environmental cleanliness but also helped enhance the self-confidence of all girls in the community Through her leadership and advocacy, she challenged traditional gender roles and norms, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable society. Puja Saini's unwavering commitment to justice and equality has inspired countless others to join the fight for change.
Jasoda is an Anganwadi young woman from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan successfully ran the "Learning through Zero Plastic" campaign in her community despite the deep-rooted gender inequality challenges in her community. She had little exposure to running a campaign at the village level. However, Jasoda after meeting the inspiring Karuna Fellows felt motivated and confident to lead the campaign in her village. With the gained confidence and a safe environment, she was able to influence her family to lead the “Zero Plastic Campaign” in her village. Through her determination and the support of the Karuna Fellows team, Jasoda successfully displayed leadership, problem-solving, decision-making, self and social awareness skills creating a positive impact in her community.
Project-based learning gives girls students the confidence and competence they need to manage an ever-changing surrounding & world by encouraging critical thinking, cooperation, and problem solving. It goes beyond educational boundaries, supporting a holistic learning approach that prepares girls for beyond academic success and life outside the classroom.
Payal from the GSSS Lalpur, Jhunjhunu feels blessed and happy to be a part of the PBL Bootcamp that was hosted as a part of the PBL intervention in Jhunjhunu. She felt she has learned diverse skills from this student bootcamp. She could identify the challenges of her community and brainstorm her peers and mentors to develop small-scale solutions. Her focus was on Safai Karam Chari’s problems. She reasoned with her group and developed her model of ensuring the sweeper comes to the community daily.
These heart-touching stories of Khushi, Puja, Jasoda, and Payal highlight the transformative impact of Project-Based Learning in empowering women and girls through investigating issues, posing queries, arguing over concepts, creating plans, and interacting with others as they address issues in the community. As we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls on 11th February let us commit to creating a safe and secure environment for every girl and woman to thrive, empowered by 21st-century skills paving way for education beyond classrooms. The stories of resilience, courage, and hope serve as a powerful reminder that liberty of mind is the greatest transformation to thrive in this solution-driven 21st century.
Think about it, if you had the liberty to step into the shoe and decide what you would like to mark your journey of growth and how, what would have been your response?