Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Focus Groups and Home Visits

The past couple of days we have spent interviewing employee families and focus groups.  Yesterday we had a focus group with a local NGO, Swabhimaan, which is also hosting an IBM CSC consultant team.  They had a very inspirational vision (equality and education for all, turning a liability into an asset through education).  It was a great discussion and gave my LSRM team a lot to think about in terms of potential models and options for furthering girls education.  I think there is potential for Swabhimaan to work with LSRM in the future.
The LSRM and Swabhimaan teams during our Focus Group
This morning, we had a focus group with a set of LSRM employees to understand more about their views on education and challenges girls face in education.  They gave us some good ideas on how to help employee children.

Focus Group with LSRM Employees
 This afternoon, we visited two more LSRM families.  The families were very gracious hosts and it was great to sit in their homes and talk with them about their children's education.

What has been consistent across focus groups and interviews is that most people agree that India's view on girls education is changing.  While many of the employees and families agree that infanticide of girl babies still exists and some groups (gypsies, extremely poor) have orthodox beliefs that devalue girls and education, they generally believe that girls and boys should receive equal levels of education.  It is very encouraging to hear this consistently. 
Spending time with an LSRM family and 4 of their 6 children, including Ragni (14) and Saloni (8)
This change is evident in the Annual Status of Education (ASER) Report published by Pratham, an Indian NGO.  The report for the state of Punjab shows that boys and girls are generally receiving a basic education up to age 14.  The table below shows that the % for girls and boys not in school is almost the same from ages 7-14.  Only until ages 15-16 does the % for out of school girls change to 11.8% and for boys 8.3%.

Some of the reasons we have heard for why this % drastically changes (and additionally the gap between boys and girls grows) are: 1) view that parents feel girls (and sometimes boys) have received enough education and can then drop out of school, 2) girls are needed to help out at home with household work or get a job (and boys are sometimes needed to earn $$ as well), 3) early marriage (money is then starting to be saved for dowry rather than education), and 4) parents do not feel it is safe for the girl to go to school anymore because they will start getting harassed by teachers and boys.
Another LSRM family and their 3 daughters, including Sapna (8)
Contrary to my previous post, we are also seeing that money actually IS a barrier to education even though the government often provides education, supplies, etc at a very nominal cost.   This is evident especially in very low-income families where the parents do not have much education themselves, there are many children (both boys and girls), and the family struggles to meet their basic needs.  For example, a low income family may not be able to afford to send all six children to school and sometimes require an older daughter to stay home to help care for the younger children.  The parents are not able to secure stable jobs and are always worrying about money for the family's next meal rather than focusing on their children's education.

Interviewing the mother of an LSRM family
This week we are gathering LOTS of data and will start to analyze the data later this week and start forming recommendations for LSRM's CSR program.  Stay tuned....

Word of the day: Namaste - Hello

#ibmcsc #india22

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