Hyderabad: A 17-year-old girl, worried over how other girls like her would cope with the demands during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, not only managed to help 100 other girls continue with their studies but also generated online content that others want to use, in the state as well as in in the rest of the country.
According to Smriti Marar, the strong urge to do something for other students was a result of the time she spent at the Naandi Foundation two years ago where she learnt about various resources and progammes available for students in class ten. “I wanted to do something so girls in class 10 can go on and complete their 12th grade,” she said.
Out of this desire to help came Project WE, an NGO Smriti founded. The goal is to help other girls of my age grow as independent, self-sufficient women. She started classes online creating content designed to provide life skills, making the best of opportunities and for making smart plans that would help other girls achieve their dreams, of continuing with their education as well as learning and developing skills that would assist them in other spheres of their lives.
“I first started tutoring at home 22 girls from a junior college in Madhurangar. They are now in degree colleges,” Smriti said.
But with many of these students coming from economically challenged families, staying connected online was a challenge, as was the case with 85 other junior college students that Smriti’s Project WE began working with subsequently. The only way to help them continue with their academic lessons online, as well as offerings from Project WE was to equip them with smartphones. Smriti said she, through her NGO, launched a fund-raising drive and managed to generate `10 lakh in donations during the pandemic lockdowns.
“We bought smartphones gave them to the students and also paid for data packages and the connections,” she said.
On the content Project WE created, Smriti said the animated programmes were created for easy learning. Even as the weekly schedule of following the videos and learning from them was drawn up, one on one interaction was constant to understand the student’s abilities. The curriculum, she said, consists of self-development, self-care, technological literacy, and financial literacy.
That the online lessons that Project WE created were interesting and useful for students was proven not just with the girls who were part of the programme benefitting from them but when a larger non-governmental organization displayed interest to take these video lessons nationwide. Also willing to use them as part of its own online education plans is the Board of Intermediate Education in the state.
Fifteen of the junior college students from the second batch that Project WE has been mentoring and assisting, have been selected to join Mahindra Pride School run in collaboration with Naandi Foundation. The selected students will be provided job-oriented training as they pursue their academics. “Another 38 are set to join degree colleges,” Smriti said, adding that she will continue with her work to help more girl students achieve their full potential.