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Shweta Goes Back to School

With support from ConnectEd, Shweta is thriving in her studies.
Shweta and her family share one small room in a housing tenement in Noida, an industrial town on the outskirts of Delhi, India. They migrated to Noida from the nearby city of Bihar to escape their village’s dire economic circumstances. Shweta’s father currently earns 3,000 rupees (roughly $60 USD) per month as a private chauffeur to a wealthy family. Because Shweta’s mother suffers from crippling arthritis and is no longer able to run the household, Shweta left school when she was thirteen to help her mother cook, clean, and to care for her younger siblings.

Shweta’s family grew to be so reliant on her help at home that one day, when a local teacher came to their home to offer Shweta the chance to return to school, both Shweta and her parents were unreceptive. The teacher was from the local NGO Action Beyond Help and Support (ABHAS) who, in partnership with World Education, Inc. and with support from the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation, implement the ConnectEd program, an initiative to assist disadvantaged youth, particularly girls, in education programs to learn essential career-building skills like communications technology, financial literacy, and civic engagement.

Shweta’s parents argued that spending time in the classroom would prevent their daughter from performing her duties at home. It took several visits to Shweta’s home by ConnectEd staff to convince Shweta’s resolute father that three hours of studying per day would not interfere with her housework. The family finally agreed that an education would give Shweta the opportunity to earn more for her and her family.

Shweta is very loyal to her family, but had never given up her dreams of getting an education. She was thrilled by this opportunity to go back to school, but anxious that she had forgotten too much from her early lessons and would not be able to learn new technology or keep up with her peers.

On the contrary, Shweta is thriving in her studies. Over the past year, she has been attending ConnectEd class for two and a half hours every day. In this time, Shweta transformed from a timid learner to an engaged student. She has become adept at using computer programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and passed her first level of English language studies. She feels empowered by the access she has gained to technology and hopes to take more science classes so that she can become a doctor.

Through the persistent efforts of ABHAS and the ConnectEd program, Shweta is on her way to becoming not only personally successful and autonomous, but also becoming an agent of change for her community. She says that she has made many close friends with whom she can share her joys and sorrows, and has gained confidence by discussing her ideas with her classmates. ABHAS and ConnectEd continue to work with Shweta and her family in charting the future of her academic career.