The Womens Cell Loreto College, Kolkata
Empowering Women – Making Dreams Come True
Our Motto: ‘Women in time to come will do much’ Mary Ward (1585 – 1645)
The Women’s Cell of Loreto College was established in 1996 by a team of dedicated educationists and social workers.
The objective was to use education to empower young women from underprivileged backgrounds.
The early students were first generation learners with merely two or three years of exposure to school education. They barely knew the alphabet and could not count to a hundred. As school dropouts they lapsed back into illiteracy. The familiar pattern for the girl child of domestic work – cooking, cleaning, minding siblings – had shrunk their lives and minds to the four walls of the home.
The Women’s Cell started with a group of about fifteen girls with the limited objective of using non-formal classes to make them functionally literate. They were taught basic language skills in Hindi and English alongside talks on hygiene, First Aid, women’s rights and the use public services as in the Post Office and Bank.
Within a short period of three years this small initiative underwent a basic change. It was clear that without a structured course of study leading to an examination and a recognized certificate, the students would not get the full benefit of the teacher’s efforts. The girls were then registered with the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) headquarters in Delhi for the Secondary Class X Board Examination. The first batch of five students was registered in July 2000.
The goal now is to give pupils a sound foundation till the Secondary Level and if possible the Senior Secondary Board offered by the NIOS. Simultaneously, every effort is made to give them practical information and knowledge of their immediate environment to build self-confidence. Learning is made an enjoyable experience so that the students grow into self-reliant young women who are an asset to their families and the community.
Since 2000 there has been no looking back for us. A steady stream of students has earned the X and XII Board Certificate. The Women’s Cell is happy to record that for the first time, in 2010, one of the pupils has received the B.A. degree from Loreto College, affiliated to Calcutta University. This is a continuous effort to ensure that few of the best students join and complete a B.A. Course from Loreto College. Another first is two of the girls are enrolled one each in the B.Ed. and TTC Course respectively at Loreto and are working towards becoming fully qualified teachers. It is a matter of pride that many of the girls are now able to get jobs as office assistants, receptionists and at Call Centers.
Cultural activities are encouraged and important dates on the college calendar are celebrated with great enthusiasm. An annual picnic is an eagerly awaited event. The girls are encouraged to use their skills in embroidery, crochet and handicrafts to display their talents at Loreto School and College Bazaars to generate a modest income for themselves.
Some of the drawbacks faced today, as we did at the beginning are (i) irregularity in attendance (ii) no support system at home (iii) poor chances of studying at home (iv) high drop-out rates. This sadly slows down rate of growth and progress.
But the teachers soldier on with the hope that the girls will realize their dreams of economic independence and that they will leave college equipped to face life’s challenges.
At the Women’s Cell ours is a truly modest effort. But it is a sincere expression of the belief held by each one of our dedicated team that by lightning even a single candle we can help to dispel the darkness.
No account of the Women’s Cell would be complete without acknowledging the pioneering effort and 24x7 commitment of our programme co-ordinator Mrs. Usha Bubha.
The distance we have travelled would not have been possible without the institution’s support and encouragement we received from our former Principal Sr. Tina Farias. The baton has now been passed on to our present Principal Sr. Christine Coutinho under whose guidance we continue to be motivated to do our best at all times.