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Inside Teaching : June 2011
Inside Teaching | June 2011 FEATURE 12 Business unusual The Going to School project in India shows girls a world of possibilities beyond early marriage and early childbearing. At age five, Anita peeked over a wall and saw a line of schoolkids standing outside their classroom. She went home and pestered her parents to let her join them as one of the few girl students. Five years later, she asked them for secondary school fees, but the family couldn’t afford them. At age 10, she started her first business, tutoring other kids to pay her own tuition. Five years after that, her father became ill, placing the family in debt. So Anita put herself into a new school for a better-paying job: beekeeping. She was a 15-year-old girl in a room full of men in their 40s where she learned how to be her village’s first female beekeeper. Somewhere along the way, she also learned how to fake a hunger strike that delayed the marriage her parents had arranged for her. Today, at 20, she is paying her college tuition. She’s formed a women’s farmers club. She’s hired her brother. She’s trained 20 girls in beekeeping, and beekeepers look very different in her village now. Her story’s been broadcast across India, reaching millions more girls. It’s a gutsy story of overcoming hardship, but Anita’s hardship was just this: she’s a girl. There are 600 million more adolescent girls in the developing world. Less than two cents of every international aid dollar is directed to them. Do all of them have to be an Anita to succeed? The big picture • The school drop-out rate for girls aged six to 16 is more than 57 per cent in India. • 86 per cent of India’s 84.6 million girls aged 15 to 24 are jobless. • Excluding girls comes at great cost: early school dropout costs the Indian economy $10 billion in potential income over a lifetime. • If adolescent girls were employed at the same rate as males their age, India could add $53.2 billion to its gross domestic product (GDP), all else equal. The Going to School project in India shows girls a world of possibilities beyond early marriage and early childbearing. Part of the project is the Be! an Entrepreneur Fund, which inspires girls to create businesses that solve the social, economic and environmental problems they face in their daily lives. LINKS http://goingtoschool.com/our_ story.html