Sabnam's Journey: Empowering Education for a Bright Future

Published: Oct 10, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
Sabnam's Journey: Empowering Education for a Bright Future
© Foto: Govinda Siwakoti for People in Need

“My parents lacked awareness about the significance of education, due to which I had to drop out of school and become occupied with the household responsibilities. I knew that education was the key to a better future for myself and my family," said Sabnam Khatun, a girl from Bara district, Nepal.

Sabnam's journey to success was not easy. Her journey began in a humble home with her father, mother, and four siblings. Her parents, Ismail Miya Ansari and her mother, were both devoted to their faith, but they were initially hesitant about prioritising Sabnam's education over traditional gender roles and early marriage expectations. Sabnam was often engaged in household chores and occasional daily wage work to support her family's meagre income.

She faced many challenges, including societal norms and economic constraints. But she was determined to get an education, and she eventually found a way to overcome these barriers.

"One day, my life intersected with the Aarambha project," Sabnam said. "Through the Aarambha project, I was enrolled in a Community Learning Center (CLC)."

The impact of the Aarambha project was multi-faceted. Sabnam's parents, along with other community members, participated in various meetings organised by CLC Management Committees and Change Champions. These interactions dispelled misconceptions and reinforced the importance of education, convincing her parents to support her educational aspirations.

At the CLC, Sabnam learned literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills for nine months. She also participated in exposure visits to government organisations and interacted with the community. With the support of Girls’the  Education Challenge funded by UK Aid, People in Need started the five-year project Aarambha-Leave No Girl Behind with its local partner Aasaman Nepal and Social Organization District Coordination Committee, Parsa, in 2018. Aarambha-Leave No Girl Behind seeks to improve the lives of out-of-school adolescent girls aged between 10 and 19 through literacy, numeracy, life skills, and community mobilisation for social transformation.

"My experience at the CLC was life-changing," Sabnam said. "I gained confidence, leadership skills, and decision-making capabilities. I also realised that education could be a tool for personal transformation."

With her newfound resilience and dedication, Sabnam triumphantly completed her Secondary Education Examination (SEE). Her success in the SEE was a testament to her unwavering spirit and ambition.

"I am incredibly happy for my daughter's success in the SEE exam. Her dedication to education through CLC and the Aarambha Project fills me with pride. I wholeheartedly support her higher education plans and have learned that early marriage isn't suitable for her personal growth. I encourage her to embrace education for a bright future, and I believe in her potential and will support her wholeheartedly” – Ismail proudly said.

Sabnam's achievement is not an isolated incident. The Aarambha project, in collaboration with its partners, has supported nearly 4,330 out-of-school adolescent girls like her, integrating them into formal education through CLCs. As a result of the project's interventions, around 86% of these girls continue their formal education in schools. This year marks a significant and noteworthy achievement, as 16 out-of-school adolescent girls, who were successfully integrated into formal education through the Aarambha project interventions, participated in the Secondary Education Examination (SEE) and successfully passed the exam in 2023.

Sabnam's journey highlights the importance of addressing the challenges faced by out-of-school girls and promoting educational opportunities for marginalised young women. Her dedication and perseverance serve as an inspiration, demonstrating the potential for transformation through strategic educational interventions.

The success of Sabnam and other girls reflects the positive impact of targeted initiatives like the Aarambha project. By fostering an enabling environment for growth, the project has defied gender-based discrimination and created a brighter, more equitable future for marginalised girls.

Sabnam's story is an inspiration to us all. She is a shining example of what can be achieved when young women have access to education and support. We hope that her story will motivate others to follow in her footsteps and break down the barriers that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.

"I am now eager to continue my education in the Education Faculty with a dream of becoming a teacher in the future," Sabnam said.

11 October is the International Day of the Girl Child, and this year's theme is "Invest in Girls' Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being." 
Autor: Sushil Kumar Sah, People in Need’s Senior Project Coordinator

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