“I didn’t know there was such a big industrial zone, let alone so close to my village,” gushes 13 year old Karishma Mehboob Pathan. “And then to have presented our ideas to the bosses of big companies! It was nerve racking but exciting,” she shares as her other classmates nod in agreement, bursting to share their own experiences.
Just ahead of the festival of Dasshera, Karishma along with 20 of her classmates had visited the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation in Satara, to put forth their sales pitch. Under the watchful eyes of teachers, these girls in smaller groups visited over 33 companies. Their product – bright yellow and orange marigold flowers, carefully nurtured by all of them for over 3 months.
Well aware of the demand for marigold flowers during Dasshera and Diwali, their Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Instructor Mr Mane had initiated this project with his students 2 years ago. In keeping with tradition, the 9th standard girls wished to undertake this floriculture project this year. Having learnt irrigation systems, making of vermicompost, how to prepare a flower bed among other scientific agricultural techniques as a part of the IBT curriculum, they were well equipped to nurture the marigold saplings they had carefully planted in their school farmland.
Once the flowers were ready for reaping, Karishma and her classmates undertook an hour long journey to MIDC, Satara to pitch for orders. Hailing from the small village of Rahimatpur in Maharashtra, this in itself was an overwhelming situation. But the excited girls, under the guidance of their supportive teachers, mustered up the courage to confidently convey the idea of their project and take orders for flowers. In the end, they had their hands full when they received orders for 139 kilos of marigold flowers!
Studying in the 9th Grade at S.P. Phadtare Girls’ Secondary School, Karishma hails from a conservative, farming family, that wants her to complete her basic education but not beyond village boundaries. Participating in this project though gave her perspective, into herself and her potential. “Talking to big officers gave me confidence. It felt good to earn money, to feel responsible,” she shares. With one more year of high school, she is pondering her career path. However one thing is certain – she does want to live up to her newly discovered potential.
Our Introduction to Basic Technology(IBT) curriculum aims to induct secondary school students in a multitude of practical vocational skill. By the very nature of subject taughts, gender stereotypes are being targeted as girls and boys learn the same skills – be it cooking or carpentry, knitting or welding. Also an integral part of this study is an emphasis on projects and community work – to help these young adults explore the spirit of entrepreneurship.