How Girls in Haryana Village Fought for Bus Services To Attend College
"If we are not given the opportunity to study, how can we even fulfill our dreams?" the girls wrote.
In the village of Devipur in Haryana's Karnal district, no girl has ever made it to college despite clearing class 12 exams. The reason? Years of patriarchy and lack of bus services from their village to the nearest college in the district.
A group of girls from the village decided to challenge this, and wrote to the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Jasbir Kaur. Within days, the bus services began – giving the girls who graduate this year a shot at pursuing higher education.
In the letter, addressed to the CJM on 24 May, a group of high school girls from the village wrote, "If we are not given the opportunity to study, how can we even fulfill our dreams?"
"People here believe that no matter how hard the girls study, they will eventually have to return home and marry. If a parent sends their daughter to study outside and she gets a ride from someone, people tend to associate them in an undesirable way. The girl is prevented from going anywhere, even to schools and colleges. What is our fault in all this?"
'Want To Set an Example for Other Girls'
"We too deserve the right to attend college, just like the boys in our town. There is no one in our community that we can show our parents to convince them to let us go to college. I want to set an example by going to college. We owe a lot to Mukesh Sir from Breakthrough who made us understand our rights," said Saijana, a class 12 student from Devipur, to The Quint.
For 18-year-old Rakhi, one of the girls who wrote the letter, a bus service means a step towards her dream.
"My family supports me, and I want to join the Indian Army. But people near my house mock me and my family. They want me to stop studying because what will girls do after studying? I want to change that."Rakhi told The Quint
Renuka, 22, is another person who was instrumental in writing the letter to the CJM. She passed out of school in 2021 and is currently working in the fields. But she hopes she can convince her parents to send her to college.
"Right now I am at home. For the past one year, I've been working in the fields. Many girls of my age are mostly married now. But now, maybe I can convince my parents to send me to college."
"Change doesn’t happen overnight, we work with adolescents, parents, community and relevant stakeholders. We have noticed not many girls drop out of education after 12th grade. Hardly anyone completed gets opportunity to go to college. Through several gender training sessions, the girls realised the right to education. They negotiated with their parents to allow them enrol in college," Mukesh, Manager, Advocacy in Haryana wing of Breakthrough NGO told The Quint.
Through a series of interventions, Mukesh and his team made the parents understand the girls' right to education – while also coordinating with the government to ensure bus services.
Action Taken by the Authorities
CJM Jasbir Kaur, who has been posted in the district for last two years, took required action within a day.
"We have established a free bus service for the girl students in the hamlet, which would allow them to visit the bordering locations to go to college. The bus should operate twice a day, as per the necessity. I have been educated, and it is why I am holding the post today. No girl student should be denied the right to education."Jasbir Kaur to The Quint
In addition, the CJM has directed the Superintendent of Police of Karnal to establish a PCR police patrolling service in the area, as well as the district's sports collector to construct a playground for the young children.
Haryana has one of the widest disparities between male and female literacy in India. According to the 2022 state census, male literacy is 84.06 percent, while female literacy is at 65.94 percent.
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