This UP-based school, named as Pardada-Pardadi school (great grandfather and great grandmother school) is teaching girls more than just academics. This school teaches girls the F word, literally – Feminism. It is not your average, everyday school; it treads the road less taken by churning feminists out of the 1,400 odd girls studying in it. Girls take encouragement from the lives of role models such as Kalpana Chawla, Annie Besant, and Yamini Krishnamurthy, whose photographs adorn the walls of the school. The school imparts not only academic but also feministic knowledge to teach girls how to fight against stereotypical, biased norms and rules.
Girls at this school are encouraged to ask questions that matter, such as “Why am I served less food than my brother?” and “Why can’t I go to school for further studies?” These are very unconventional questions for girls to ask in Bulandshahr,… Click To Tweet
Every girl student at the Pardada-Pardadi school has to pledge three golden rules: not to get married before the age of 18, to attain financial self-sufficiency, and to only marry an educated man. Most of the students belong to economically weak families and usually are first-generation school-goers. The school provides aid by means of free uniforms, books, two meals a day, and even a snack.
For students whose homes are not close to any bus routes, receive bicycles so that they don’t miss school. Financed by corporates and non-profit agencies, PPES also opens a fixed deposit account for every girl child enrolled in the school to sponsor her future education. Every girl that graduates from the school receives a milestone of her own name, with the passing out year inscribed on it as well.
Apart from a gender-empowerment focused curriculum, the school also arranges domestic as well as international study tours annually, so that girls with high attendance can receive a boost of self-confidence. A part of the Pardada-Pardadi Education Society (PPES), the school was founded in 2000 with the aim of offering free education to girls in Anupshahr, UP. Back then, the school hardly had 45 parents who willingly sent their daughters, but today, the school has to reject applications, due to its growing popularity.
Pooja Kumari a 29-year-old computer teacher who teaches at the school and is a pass-out from the 1st batch is also the first lady in her village to ride a bicycle. Despite being raised in a small village, Pooja went to Bangalore to pursue a degree in computer science, but she came back, and has, till date, freed three villages from the evil clutches of child marriage. Asha Rani Pal was engaged when she was only four, but her thirst for knowledge led her to an educational trip to the US when she turned 15. After returning from the US, Asha broke off her engagement and found life and its meaning as a social worker.
Both these women have different stories of their own, but they are bound together by one common thread: both of them have milestones to their name at the Pardada-Pardadi school, which is changing the lives and dreams of girls in Anupshahr, a small town in the Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh.