Strengthening its commitment to invest in the communities in which it operates, BAE Systems will support 300 girls to complete secondary school through Room to Read's Girls' Education Programme. BAE Systems is partnering with Room to Read, a global non-profit organization focused on improving literacy and gender equality in education with its largest region of operations in India. BAE Systems' investment will provide material support, mentorship, life skills training, and family and community engagement activities with the goal of encouraging young women, in grades 8-12, to complete their secondary education.
This partnership is aligned with Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao or Save the girl child, Educate the girl child, an initiative of the Indian government which specifically targets universal enrolment of girl students in schools, decreased drop-out rates, girl child-friendly standards in schools, and implementation of Right to Education (RTE).
Nik Khanna, Managing Director, BAE Systems India, said "The education of girls has a profound and long-lasting impact on communities. Room to Read's Girl Education Programme is transformational in its focus on life skills as the key to secondary school completion and success beyond. We are delighted to join forces with Room to Read to launch this new phase of community investment complementing the national effort on Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao."
Sourav Banerjee, India Country Director, Room to Read, said "Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Institutional support is critical to our success. BAE Systems' inspired action under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao blends its organization's goals with Room to Read's objectives and will ensure more girls have the power of choice and are ready for the doors of opportunity that follow."
Girls face obstacles to their education both inside and outside of school. Early marriage plays a large role in keeping girls out of secondary school, with 47 percent of girls in India married before their 18th birthdays. School often reinforce gender inequality through social norms and community control. Room to Read addresses gender inequality by working with government stakeholders to advocate for the importance of girls' education at the state and national levels.
The Girls Education Programme specifically addresses the risk of secondary school drop-out of the girl-child and equips them with critical life skills. In 2016, dropout rates of girls on the program in India declined by more than 50%, from nearly 14% in 2015 to 6% in 2016. In 2015, 93% of girls enrolled in the program remained in school or graduated and 95% of girls who remained in the program advanced to the next grade.
Engagement with families, schools and communities is a key component of the programme which is based on a long-term engagement with girls, most of whom are first generation learners. The Girls' Education Programme, which aligns with United Nations' Social Development Goal (UNSDG) of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, has supported more than 38,000 girls globally.