Tata Steel Camp School at Noamundi inking a better future for dropout school girls

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NOAMUNDI: In a country that has recently begun to voice its concerns on girl child illiteracy, the story of Khushi Khatoon is not less than of a secret superstar. From complete illiteracy to the shores of wisdom, the journey for her has been a remarkable one.

Born in a family having three children, Khushi is the youngest of them all. A year ago, 12 year old Khushi had never dreamt of the world like this. Studying in class 6 at Kasturba Gandhi Avasiya Balika Vidayalaya in Noamundi, she dreams to be a teacher for rural India someday.

“Big cities have the best of the facilities and everyone wants to go there, learn and teach. I want to visit small villages, stay there and teach, so that children like me get a chance to better their future”, says Khushi.

The journey of transformation for Khushi began last year when her mother admitted her to the Camp School for dropout students at Noamundi. From unlettered ignorant girl to a sharp observant girl, Khushi began to learn but with great difficulty. For the first six months of her tenure in Camp School, she struggled as she had never been introduced to alphabets at home. In the last six months, she bloomed to pick up the pace and eventually became a Camp School class topper.

Somavari Padiya, Warden, Camp School at Noamundi, recollecting her memory said, “It was only her 3rd day at Camp School, when we saw her crying while eating her lunch in the afternoon. We all thought that she is missing her family. But to our surprise, she said she had never had food for three times a day and this is what got her emotional. Stories like that of Khushi compel us to do our bit in bringing up all such girls with compassion and love.”

The Camp School at Noamundi is a unique initiative by Tata Steel to rope in school dropout girl students to further their studies. The initiative includes intake of 100-125 underprivileged girls every year from in an around Noamundi, who are mentored for a year in a residential course and then bridged to mainstream education. For the last 8 years, this remarkable initiative has not only bridged more than 800 dropout girl students into the mainstream education system, but has also sensitised the local villagers on the importance of education for girls.

As a budding poetess, Khushi dreams of a happy life in her poems and like her, a number of school dropout girls have begun to script their tale, one which is built on the foundation of hope and will.

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