The ‘Phool Ban Nursery School’ programme is among the most successful SAF initiatives. A number of girls from the remote villages in the Kashmir Valley are selected, trained and then sent back home to give pre-primary education in their communities. One of the Kashmiri girls, Afroza Bano (on my right), receiving training in Srinagar was from the village of Ganderbal, where her community was already building the school where she would teach when she returned home.
Example of school opened by SAF Vocational Training Scholarship program.
Invited by the SAF Founder to attend the South Asia Foundation Learning Initiative meeting in New Delhi on 14th December 2003, Professor Ahmed Khan Tareen, Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University, submitted a training project at the Institute of Home Science (Kashmir University).
Professors of the University had designed a unique one-year diploma course which would extensively train educated girls in pre-primary education, childcare and entrepreneurship skills to run a school.
The pilot project started in 2003 and 30 girls were trained. The girls (grade 10) were selected from rural areas and it was a rigorous process involving the local village Panchayat and University experts.
The final list was formally approved by a Committee consisting of the Chancellor of the University (Governor), a representative of the University and SAF India.
The scholarship amount per awardee provided for free accommodation, laboratory expenses and field training, teaching material, remuneration to faculty and miscellaneous expenses at the discretion of the course Director.
One of the intentions of this educational initiative was to generate individuals who were both educators and entrepreneurs, and would introduce high grade self-sustaining education into rural Kashmir.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the South Asia Foundation and the University was signed in 2003.
Three years later 86 girls from different regions (Ladakh, Uri,Gurez, Qazigund, Banifal, Karnah, Doda) were trained and started their own “Phoolban Schools” with school equipment, toys and teaching aids provided by the SAF.
So far 112 women have been trained. This project completely transformed the shy village girls into bold personalities, ready to take the challenge and become women entrepreneurs in education. They have total commitment and the quality of their work is very high.