On The Ground in South India
At the core of our program is a relationship with Dream School Foundation (DSF), an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO). DSF partners with more than 30 government schools in North Bangalore, the area where most of our students come from, to identify and screen deserving, bright but impoverished young women and recommend them for the “Ten Plus” (beyond 10th grade) program.
We have sponsored more than 500 young women, and we are currently sponsoring 200 students annually.
The “Ten Plus” Program
The goal of “Ten Plus” is to provide these young women with academic and social support so they can complete their secondary studies successfully and then attend college in their chosen academic or professional fields, including engineering and medicine.
Ultimately, these young women are lifted out of lives with limited options and given the potential for financially independent, full, and rewarding lives where they can give back to their communities and families.
“Ten Plus” program consists of four components: coaching; mentoring; finishing; and reaching out to parents.
Meenakshi Foundation offers pre-university students a rigorous after-school coaching program delivered by Dream School Foundation during the last two years of secondary school. Six paid teachers, with a minimum of master degrees in their specialties, deliver the coaching, along with weekend volunteers. A majority of the students lives near the two coaching centers; for the remainder, we strive to offer coaching at local centers run by other organizations.
The goal of coaching is to enhance the students’ knowledge bases and test-taking skills as well as boost their confidence and ability to express themselves effectively so they will succeed in their professional college entrance exams at the end of year two.
- Coaching 6 days per week at two Bangalore centers
- Total of 12-14 hours each week
- Focus on academic subjects
- Physics, chemistry, biology, and math for science students
- Accounting, business, and economics for commerce students
- Coaching in spoken English and computer use
- Communication, leadership, and life skills
- Preparation for board exams and entrance tests for pre-engineering, medical, and other professional delivered via external organizations
- BASE, Giraffe Coaching, and Gurura Institutes provide reduced-cost seats for about 30 of our students each year
- Meenakshi Foundation funds this external coaching
- Continued coaching for non-science students (accounting, business, economics, computer science) at the two Bangalore centers
- 6 days a week
- 2-3 hours daily
Together with Dream School Foundation, we provide a comprehensive, one-on-one mentoring program with about 75 volunteer mentors, carefully selected from the academic and professional fields chosen by the students.
Mentors meet with students once or twice each month, either in person or via phone or email. Despite the challenges inherent in such programs, the work is rewarding for both mentors and students, who learn how to communicate and build relationships.
Finishing & Career Education
Through our “finishing school,” we address the softer skills our students need to be presentable to employers in their chosen industries: communication; personal grooming; resume preparation; email etiquette; interview and role playing; and online job search.We also emphasize the importance of teamwork and continuous learning. Further, we impart industry-specific knowledge by experts so our graduates are “ready to deploy.” Thus, we bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace, helping students not just get jobs, but keep them.
This program takes place during the November through January midterm holidays. Students are very positive about what they learn, and we refine the program each year.
Getting parents on board with educating their daughters is crucial. We meet with parents during the admission and scholarship granting process and conduct workshops with them during the school year.
Facts About Girls in India
- While girls attend primary school in roughly equal numbers as boys, the gap widens as they get older, with many forced to drop out to help with work at home or get married.
- Girls are often seen as an economic burden, and marriage transfers the responsibility to a new husband.
- India has the highest number of child brides in the world, with an estimated 47% married before their 18th birthday.
- While fewer Indian girls are marrying before the age of 15, rates of marriage have increased for girls between ages 15 to 18.
Source: UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2015