This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sharbari Ghosh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How A School In West Bengal Is Tempting Girls To Come To School

More from Sharbari Ghosh

This post is a part of Kaksha Crisis, a campaign supported by Malala Fund to demand for dialogue around the provisions in the New Education Policy 2020. Click here to find out more.

While being in a conversation with a teacher of a Government Girls school, she recalls having witnessed a tangible surge in the girls’ admission in her institution, situated in West Bengal.

Even in the Covid times, she has revealed a well-managed school curriculum with great satisfaction so as not to ‘hamper’ the education – the teachers have regularly resumed teaching via an online platform. However, due to the lack of smartphones, she accepts some of her students could not attend her classes.

Primarily, for the Class 12 students, the West Bengal government has allotted each with Rs 10,000 to get hold of smartphones. Mock tests of Class 12 have been conducted twice, once online and then when the classes resumed in school (by maintaining all the Covid protocols) in offline mode.

Tangible Incentives To Promote Girl’s Education

Concerning the other facilities which have attracted girls to take admissions in her school, all students (from Class 1 to Class 12) are given free books, free school uniforms, and free midday meals. However, in Covid times, the students, via their guardians, are given rice, lentils, grams, potatoes, and Iron tablets. They are also entitled to soaps, sanitizers, and masks.

The Central Government digital platforms like e-Vidya, VidyaDaan 2.0, Diksha Portal, National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT), and Bharat Padhe are trying to democratize education.

Particularly, the West Bengal Government (India Report Digital Education) has made use of TV channels like “10 am to 11 am and 3 pm to 4 pm on ABP Ananda and 10 am to 11 am to Zee 24 Ghanta” to help the students of Class 10 to Class 12 and is also trying to reach out to the students via WhatsApp groups.

In addition to these, Balika Samriddhi Yojana has provided annual scholarships (Rs 300 – Rs 1000) to the girls for attending the schools. Shikhashree has further helped the girl students gain book and maintenance grants to reduce dropouts.

Mind You; Not All Incentives Are Visible!

While in conversation with the same teacher, it was revealed that the supply of sanitary napkins had been absolutely nil during the pandemic. Hygiene and healthcare still stand out to be the most important incentive yet the ‘least’ provided. The plight of the marginalized students have touched the bottom as “West Bengal has reduced to take the benefits of scholarships granted to minority students.”

Representational image.

On the broader canvas, the baits laid out to attract more girls within the school campus are pretty substantial and, to a great extent, have been realized. However, the state of education in the Covid times has not always been this hunky-dory (as compared to this archived conversation of March 2021).

At the beginning of the pandemic, via the survey conducted by West Bengal Right to Education (RTE Forum and Campaign against Child Labour CACL), there was a steep escalation in the girl child labourers to 113% with 42 incidents of child marriages.

While focussing on the educational facilities (manifested by the schemes), one ought to understand; all will come with its own set of complexities. Neither the situation of the girls nor their educational facilities can be ‘critiqued’ in mere isolation.

Conclusively, while being aware of the incentives, it is important to know the reason behind providing these incentives as well. While being happy with the statistics of the incentives, one might set out to have a utopic connotation. Likewise, to set foot into the arena of online classes, simply having a phone is not enough. The constant data pack recharges and the ample space in the mobile to store the online materials received cannot be accommodated within Rs 10,000.

Even I happen to have a phone which costs around Rs 7,000. However, I can carry forward with this phone simply because I am ‘privileged’ enough to have a laptop to save all my online documents, class materials, and even assignments. Moreover, say now, the girls are being brought to the schools by laying out such incentives for the time being. It is crucial to question that how many girls will actually pursue higher education?

The pandemic might have undoubtedly brought a hard time for the ‘accurate’ dispensing of the incentives. Apart from this, the pandemic has also ‘underlined’ the loopholes in the sets of incentives.

The author is a Kaksha Correspondent as a part of writers’ training program under Kaksha Crisis.

You must be to comment.

More from Sharbari Ghosh

Similar Posts

By SAANS leaders

By Charkha Features

By missanu

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below