Convincing families in rural India to educate girls can be a difficult task, even when those families are wealthy. For families in underprivileged areas, such as those where RDF operates, this task is even more difficult as parents often feel they can only spare enough money to educate one child and the son takes precedence. However, from its very inception RDF has emphasized the importance of equal access to education amongst boys and girls.
To help ensure an even ratio of male and female students, we offer a lower tuition fee to girls. Additionally, if the class strength for girls is not reaching 50%, RDF teachers travel to the surrounding villages, visiting families and explaining to them the importance of educating their daughters as well as their sons. Convincing families to educate their daughters was one of the biggest challenges when RDF opened our first school in 1996. These days the class ratios range from 44 percent to 52 percent girls.
To empower girls, RDF sends girl students for personality development and communication skills training. GE has been working with RDF for several years and each year, the participation of the number of girls increases significantly. The girls also participated in the Lead India 2020 program which aims at building self awareness in rural children in order to groom them as future leaders of India. The students learnt about their responsibilities to their communities and society at large and managing personal challenges. It was an opportunity the girls took to very well and our hope is that it has imbibed enough self belief in their own abilities to be active members of their communities.