Saturday, February 15, 2014

Meeting the LSRM Families

This week, we developed our methodology and approach for a needs assessment for a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program focused on girls education.  Phase 1 of the program is understanding how Ludhiana Steel Rolling Mills (LSRM) can best serve the needs of its employees girl children.  Our approach is three-fold: 1) survey 40 employees with girl children, 2) conduct in-depth interviews with 5 employees, the employees' girl children, and the employee wives, and 3) conduct focus groups with employees and 2 NGOs that focus on education.
Peter and Rajeev, our client counterpart, surveying an LSRM employee about girls education
Yesterday we visited a couple of the employee's families from the Ludhiana Steel Rolling Mills.  It was both a very awesome and humbling experience.  The families were incredibly welcoming and open to talk to us about girl's education and challenges girls face.  Both families we visited mentioned that they believe the state of Punjab values girls education more than other states, which was interesting to hear.
Lukas, me, Ruchy, Rolly, and the mother posing with our gifts.  The third daughter, Rani, was playing outside.
These two families were some of the medium-lower paid employees, but were very proud of their daughters and said that education brings pride to a family.   Both families sent all of their girl children to school.  They also told us they were planning to send their girls to school through senior secondary school (12th grade high school equivalent), and hopefully on to university.  One family had a son and told us they wanted both the son and daughter to receive equal levels of education.  From a girl's education perspective, our visits were very encouraging.
Interviewing Rolly, the 13 year old daughter of an LSRM employee
From everyone we have talked to so far, some challenges with girls education in India include:
- early marriage (by age 15 or 16)
- safety traveling to school (someone needs to accompany them)
- cultural belief that girls are not as valuable as boys (some families will send their boy to school and not their girl or not give a girl and boy the same level of education)
- cultural view that girls are a burden on a family (the family is expected to pay a dowry to the husband's family before marriage, which makes it more expensive to have a girl)

In addition, India's education system has its own challenges, such as shortage of teachers, inconsistent quality of teachers, and a grade attainment gap (i.e. 5th graders reading at a 2nd grade level).

Interestingly enough (and unlike Tanzania), money does not seem to be the largest barrier to education.  Low income families definitely have to make sacrifices, but it is not completely out of reach for their children, and especially girls, to go to school.  The families we interviewed told us that there are expenses (books, uniform, etc) and sometimes nominal school fees associated with education, but the government of India has lowered, and in some cases, waived these fees for girl children to promote girls education.  In addition, there are government programs and other organizations that provide support for families that cannot support their children (both boys and girls) to go to school.

Even so, if LSRM could give scholarships or provide another educational program to its employees to promote their girl children to go to school, they could not only relieve some of the financial burden of education, but also show their employees that if LSRM values girls education, they should too.
Lukas, Peter, and I with Pratam, Priyanka, and the mother of another LSRM family
LSRM wants to focus first on supporting the education of their employees' girl children, so part of our needs assessment is figuring out how to best serve these girls.  We have found that some of the employees are migrants, so their families live very far away.  Others still hold some of the cultural views discouraging girls education.  We are working to find a way to bridge as many gaps as possible so we can achieve LSRM's CSR mission!

Word of the day: ap ka nam kya hai - what is your name?

#ibmcsc #india22

No comments:

Post a Comment