Saturday, 26 November 2011

“Our girls should know how to read a newspaper”

Update The Wisdom Academy - November 2011

Building awareness on education and health, and encouraging parents to send their children to school is an ongoing job for The Wisdom Academy. 


The majority of the parents are illiterate and unskilled, and do not know about the potential of schooling. As an elderly slum dweller said: “When our children reach the age of 10 we send them to the city to work as servants for rich families, so why should they go to school?”

Talking to parents on a constant basis and giving them reasons to send their children to school works. Many kids now come to the schools on their own. They don’t need to be picked up from their homes anymore by a helper of The Wisdom Academy.

Recently, some mothers told a teacher that their daughters should know how to read a newspaper. In communities where families are far less likely to educate girls than boys, such a statement indicates a positive change in awareness of the importance of education!

The monthly door-to-door health visits by the nurse and a female teacher are more and more about prevention and raising awareness, besides offering basic medical care. It took some time to gain trust from the (female) slum dwellers. Now, the ladies tell their stories, share information on families in need, and are willing to be educated about health, personal hygiene and cleanliness.

The nurse tells the women, for instance:
  • To limit the amount of hot spices (garam masala) in the food to reduce stomach problems and diarrhoea.
  • About the harms of tobacco consumption. Many women have the habit of chewing tobacco, as a ‘medicine’ for weakness, anaemia and headache. The nurse gives them iron tablets and vitamin pills.
  • That (if possible) they and their family members should have breakfast in the morning before leaving for work and school, to feel fitter, perform better and avoid health problems.