SAKHI’s Initiatives to Address the Problem of Slum Girls’ Education
In 2008, Aarti Naik founded SAKHI for Girls’ Education and began teaching daily classes for girls in the slums of Mumbai, India. Since that time, SAKHI has been reaching slum-based girls through the following strategies:
- Teaching basic literacy and numeracy to girls in an after-school program, which includes guided learning, games, and contests to make learning interesting and fun.
- Providing a girls-only space for learning. In a safe, supportive, and quality learning space, girls can learn, develop friendship networks, be educated about their rights, and become leaders.
- Providing girls with quality books in both English and Marathi to promote reading.
- Promoting girls-only activities that help girls develop skills, build self-confidence, increase participation, and learn to be active and shape their own lives.
- Developing local girl leaders as mentors to be role models for younger girls.
SAKHI has implemented the following programs to carry out its mission:
The Girls’ Learning Centre emerged from Aarti Naik’s experiences of working with slum girls. It provides a safe and quality learning space where girls come together to learn. The Learning Centre offers a community-based basic education programme especially for building basic literacy, numeracy, and life skills of slum girls with a lifelong learning approach. Currently around 30 girls are benefiting from the following activities:
- Educational capacity building classes
- Life skills building sessions
- Developing reading and writing skills
- Library of English and Marathi books
- Basic computer literacy skills
In November 2012, SAKHI started the Girls’ Book Bank: Helping Slum Girls to Read and Lead. Currently around 100 girls are taking part in this initiative to promote literacy in English and Marathi. This innovative literacy and leadership programme provides books, and book bags for their safe storage, to neighbourhood girls. SAKHI recruits adolescent girls to become Reading Leaders for their neighbourhood, bringing books to slum girls door-to-door, and gathering them together in fun activities to inspire reading, improve vocabulary, and build confidence. The Book Bank hosts reading and writing competitions that motivate girls to read at home. The younger girls observe the older girls reading, and each girl inspires, supports, and guides each other.
Recently, SAKHI started the Girls’ Livelihood School. Its initial goal is to develop a basic livelihood skill-building program utilising a Livelihood Mentor Network, especially for slum-based adolescent girls. Currently around 20 girls are building their livelihood skills at the Girls’ Livelihood School.
SAKHI brings girls together regularly to put aside money specifically for their future educational needs. Girls learn how to save, how to use their saved money in emergencies, and to provide for their own formal schooling.