Leela and Rashmi: Class of 2018

Each year, Pratham’s Second Chance program gives thousands of girls and women across India the chance for a better future. In a country where females are often forced to give up their education due to economic or societal pressures, school is simply not an option for many of them. Pratham provides access to secondary education for female dropouts in underserved communities and helps them obtain their diploma, improving their prospects for higher education and employment.

Leela Rawat, who lives in a small village in Rajasthan is one such young women. As a child, she never once set foot in a school or even held a book. “I never had time to think about education,” she explains. “We were so busy on the farm trying to earn a living.” When Pratham mobilizers visited her home to discuss enrolling Leela in the tenth grade, her parents were reticent. Once she had enrolled, however, the results were evident. This former dropout now talks excitedly about the future: “I want to do my bit for the society. I believe that I can dream big.”

Pratham’s three-month foundation course prepared Leela for the more intensive yearlong course. As she puts it, “it is because of my teachers that I can move ahead in life.” But according to one of her instructors, “it is girls like Leela who have the strength; the teachers are mere facilitators.”

Another example of such strength is Rashmi Yadav. At the age of 40, Rashmi is proof that it’s never too late to complete your education. Having dropped out of high school over two decades ago, this single mother from Chhattisgarh had given up on her dream of returning. When she learned about the Second Chance program from two graduates, she decided to enroll. The transformation is striking. She speaks and carries herself with a newfound confidence. She has passed her tenth-grade exam with high marks and jokingly explains that the most difficult part was learning to use a tablet: “Today I can see videos, I can click photos and very soon I will also learn to operate a mobile phone!”

It is clear that the effects of Second Chance can be felt long after graduation. The program teaches women and girls to make better life choices, leading to smaller, healthier families. It gives them the confidence to make their voices heard in the world. Learn more about Pratham’s Second Chance program.

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