This is Sangeeta

There are now more than 80 girls enrolled in the Mahbubnagar ICT Center in our various courses. The courses range from learning conversational English to learning computers. The happened in a short duration of 3 days. It required a brief introduction of the computer course at the Government residential hostel nearby. The deluge of girls started to flow in our center in the evenings.

Amongst the girls who joined our Center is Sangeeta. She came 30 minutes before our class time to quietly sit on one of the computers. She wanted to go unnoticed and not make eye contact. Later on, we found out that she didn’t want anyone to stop her from using the computers. The girls were welcome anytime to use the computers.

Sangeeta’s screen was an excel sheet. She was learning how to type on her own. She has made a list of her friends in one row, with another row as the serial numbers. On top of the sheet was written- “B.Com Computer Science”. This stands for a Bachelors degree in Commerce with a focus on Computer Science. I tried to talk to her, and she became very nervous. I wanted to make her comfortable by cracking some jokes. She joined the class.

Today’s practise session was about writing a letter to the District Collector about the status of their village. This was more of a typing exercise and students getting familiar with the keys and opening and saving a word document. In one hour some students could write 3 lines others could write 2 lines. There was one girl who wrote about 5 lines. Sangeeta was somewhere in between. The class ended at 6:30pm when everyone was asked to leave. Sangeeta said, “madam 5 minutes please”. I smiled and said okay. She was trying very hard to type. After 20 minutes I asked “Sangeeta, are you done?” She said, “Madam 5 minutes please”. The Computer Center instructors became busy with planning the next day’s activities. I asked “Sangeeta?” She reluctantly got up to leave.

Next day Sangeeta was early again and by this time saw us more as friends than people who would ask her to leave. As she started to open an excel sheet and I got a chance to know more about her. Her village is 5 hours away. She lives in the nearby Government Hostel like other girls. Her College is very close to the Hostel. Even though she is enrolled in a Bachelors Degree Program with Computer Science focus, Sangeeta had not worked on a computer. The academic year was almost about to end. I asked her if she learnt about Computers in her classes. She replied that the College Principal is her class teacher so “he is very busy”. There have been hardly any theory classes with zero computers practical work. But she is very interested in learning Computers. That night again, Sangeeta stayed back late to finish the class assignment on her own. Although she didn’t learn much in her college, she required very little help to figure out things. She typed slowly but was able to do everything on her own.

One more day went by. Sangeeta asked her first question- “Can you teach me English?”

#genderequality #letgirlslearn #empowerment #education

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