Today, on National Girl Child Day, we celebrate the transformative power of education, particularly for young girls in India. Rocket Learning stands at the forefront of a movement that extends education beyond the traditional classroom, reaching into the very heart of homes. While our primary mission remains to bring high-quality early childhood education to all children in India, we’ve observed an unexpected and profound impact our program has on young girls. Originally designed as a comprehensive educational solution for low-income communities, this revelation surfaced through extensive research, surveys, user testing, and conversations with community members. The unanticipated yet significant positive consequences of our intervention highlight the broader impact on the empowerment of young girls, complementing our core mission.
Early Childhood Education for Equitable Opportunity:
Our work is built on the premise that early childhood education equips girls with the ability to access equitable opportunities later in life. Ensuring that both girls and boys build the brain connections required to become curious learners and set the groundwork for a resilient life is at the core of our mission. Girls who receive high-quality early childhood education do better in school and, in the long run, can access better livelihood opportunities, ensuring stability and success.
In many low-income communities in India, societal norms and economic constraints create barriers for girls attending schools regularly. The challenges are manifold, ranging from cultural taboos surrounding menstruation to financial limitations that disproportionately affect girls when parents must choose which child to send to school.
Home Learning as a Catalyst:
Rocket Learning’s innovative home-learning program emerged as a game-changer, particularly during the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. When schools and daycare centers closed their doors, we stepped in to ensure that tens of thousands of students, including a significant number of girls, didn’t lose access to vital education and developmental growth.
Addressing Cultural Taboos:
Our home-learning model tackles head-on the cultural taboos that often keep girls away from schools, especially during menstruation. Mothers also often rely on their daughters to share household chores and responsibilities which prevent them from focusing on education at times. By providing a safe and supportive learning environment within the comfort of their homes, we empower girls to continue their education without interruption.
Watch here: At Rocket Learning, we believe that fathers play a crucial role in their children’s education. It’s not just a mother’s responsibility; fathers are stepping up and taking charge, ensuring their child’s educational journey thrives.
Overcoming Economic Hurdles:
The economic burden on families, where education is a choice between siblings, disproportionately affects girls. Our program’s accessibility ensures that financial constraints don’t hinder a girl child’s right to education, offering a cost-effective alternative that prioritizes their learning journey.
Creating an Inclusive Support System:
Rocket Learning doesn’t just stop at delivering educational content. We’ve witnessed a surge in demand from daycare centers seeking not only to continue our program but also to enhance the educational support, content, and peer interaction. This collaborative approach creates a robust support system, fostering an environment where girls thrive academically and emotionally.
One of the cornerstones of our design principles is representation. Our mascot, Chulbuli, embodies the population we serve, increasing relatability and recall value. In our behavior change campaigns, we showcase men and women sharing household chores equally, challenging stereotypes and fostering a more inclusive society.
Gender-Equitable Outcomes and Impact Evaluation:
Across our impact evaluation studies, we have observed that Rocket Learning’s intervention has led to learning improvements for both girls and boys almost equally, with girls performing slightly better than boys between ages 4 and 6. The design process of the impact analysis employed a gender-equitable lens at every stage, ensuring a fair representation of both genders in sampling, assessment, and metrics evaluation.
Behavior Change at Rocket Learning:
Our behavior change campaigns challenge gender norms, introducing children to a range of career options without ascribing any gender to the careers. These campaigns aim to break stereotypes and empower both girls and boys to pursue their interests freely. Our vision for gender equity at Rocket Learning is structured around five key pillars: Representation, Responsibility, Participation, Socialization, and Empowerment.
Read about our work in this UNESCO article: Empowering 1.39 million Indian daycare workers to transform early education
Because of our ability to reach millions of children and families in India, we remain focused on not only enabling early childhood learning for children but also combating harmful prevailing social norms. We are proud that benefits of early childhood learning are seen equally by boys and girls in our program, and we plan to continue our monitoring and evaluation processes that allows us to disaggregate by gender and ensure that this remains the case. Through our content, we aim to impact a new generation of children who grow up not viewing their professional goals as limited by their genders. We continue to equip mothers as fierce champions of their children’s learning regardless of their own education level and remind fathers of their crucial role in their children’s learning and socioemotional development. In the next three years, we remain equally committed to creating 5 million curious, joyful, uninhibited learners across India.