Why teaching confidence, critical thinking and conflict management might be more effective than the standard academic program.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for Roshni Academy. Knowing very little about it, I decided to attend, and what I discovered inspired me to share — what better forum to discuss the topic of educating girls in underprivileged areas than the Girl Effect campaign.
I think we're all familiar and aware of the consequences of poverty, disenfranchisement and under-privilege: social discrepancies that can often be overwhelming, so I'm constantly looking for opportunities that leverage community, technology and education well enough to enable the "haves" to support the "have-nots" — with non-profit or social enterprise models that are scalable.
Hence my interest and support for the Roshni Academy (Roshni means light in Hindi). Founded by Stanford junior Saima Hasan in 2007, while tutoring students in nearby East Palo Alto, CA — a perfect example of where the extreme wealth, knowledge and success of Silicon Valley doesn’t “trickle down.” Roshni is a non-profit program funded by Silicon Valley business leaders and philanthropists, already transforming the lives of more than 500 underprivileged girls, in seven districts of Delhi, India. The program identifies, trains and mentors brilliant girls from socio-economically underprivileged communities and Saima is now looking to bring that same level of success to the US (East Palo Alto) – where she hopes to pilot an American version of her program.
The Roshni formula is simple: empower smart girls with self confidence, critical thinking skills, basic social skills and life skills – and help them realize that they can succeed by working hard and taking risks. Roshni girls, all of whom live below the poverty line yet maintain top academic standing, undergo intensive education through three training modules over a six-month period. The curriculum covers 25 subjects, ranging from public speaking to conflict management to hygiene. Students are also taught computer and internet basics. At the end of each training season, 60 top-performing students are granted scholarships by the Nurul Hasan Foundation to pursue their secondary and higher education.
The fundraiser highlighted the success of the program and the videos showed the powerful difference in the confidence of the young girls that had participated in the program. A clear indication that empowering girls with confidence, critical thinking, conflict management, presentation and social skills can sometimes go a lot farther in getting someone workforce ready than mere academic training. Seeing a structured program in place that helps effectively focus and fine tune the unbridled enthusiasm, talent and intelligence of these young girls was heartening and a true testament to the legacy of Girl Effect.
Roshni Academy – keep shining!