Barabanki, U.P. (WFS) - Tabassum hates to sleep. She considers it a waste of time. Ever since her dream of going to school came true, every minute spent in anything else but studying is unbearable. After waiting for eight years to go to school, life suddenly changed for the 12-year-old the day an education official persuaded her parents to visit the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), a residential school for girls in her village Ganeshpur, in district Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh.

Mumtaz Jahan, Principal of KGVB says that most parents are sceptical at first. Holding motivational camps and informing them that the textbooks, school uniforms and meals are free for the three years that the girls stay and study at the KGBV is the first step towards gaining their trust, according to Jahan. "Our biggest challenge is to convince them that sending their daughters to school will give them a better life than making them work in the fields. Some parents are so poor that they sometimes sell their daughters in the hope of easy money and ruin their lives," she says.

Tabassum's parents, too, wanted to know how sending her to school could be more profitable than the Rs.25 that she earned every day by working in the field. Although it took several meetings to explain how education could change their lives economically, it was Tabassum's overwhelming desire to study that tipped the scales in her favour.

But Tabassum is not the only one whose life has changed. The KGBV scheme - instituted under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in 2005 to ensure access and quality elementary education (Class 6-8) to girls disadvantaged by gender and socio-economic reasons - has opened new doors hitherto closed because of discrimination and poverty. (The SSA is Government of India's flagship programme to universalise elementary education by community-ownership of the school system. The SSA also helps to bridge social, regional and gender gaps and is implemented in partnership with state governments.)

A working group instituted by the Planning Commission in 2006 on development of education for girls and other disadvantaged communities recommended that the KGBV scheme be extended to Class 12.

 •  ASER shows measurement matters
 •  Barrier to girls education