“Learn to believe in the power of your dreams, to enjoy the little things in life, and to keep moving forward in life.”– Sabhya Rai
Ms.Sabhya Rai is an 19- years old passionate Education Activist from Illam. She has been working in the sector of education and children. She has initiated a project called “Education for all-Keep learning, Keep growing”, which aims to foster the significance of education and also contribute towards the eradication of unwanted social beliefs. For this project, she has received a Certificate of Recognition; in the field of social service.
During Pandemic; She has established a clean and spacious classroom in her house to educate children of her community. Till now more than 10 children have been benefited by her open classroom. Timely, She also conducts seminars on the importance of quality education where she invites not only the guardians of her students but also other community people. Apart from that, Ms.Rai loves reading, writing, singing, painting, and dancing.
She is one of the Finalists of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero Nepal 2021. We had a few conversations with her regarding his projects. The major highlights of the interview are given below;
1) How was your experience when you were announced as the Top 6 Finalists of GTH Nepal 2021?
The first experience I had when I was announced as the Top 6 Finalists of Nepal was the immense feeling of hopefulness about the opportunities to do something even greater for society, common people, and the children. Glocal Teen Hero has always been the hub of opportunities for every young change maker to do something incredible that would ultimately bring about positive impacts in society and also in the country as a whole. I had always dreamt of doing something remarkable that would foster the sense of the significance of quality education in one’s life which in turn would uplift others’ lives.
I imagined myself doing greater works than what I am doing today for the growth and upliftment of other people’s lives and I saw a massive opportunity lying before me to help others grow the moment I saw myself in the list of Finalists.
2)What inspired you to work in the sector of education and children?
I belong to such a conservative society where education is barely advocated and where grave gender inequality prevails with girls and women bearing the brunt. The story of my life started from the very point when I was born because I was a girl and my abilities were judged and undermined by society before I could even speak a word. But, fortunately, my parents decided to educate me and my two other sisters into the finest boarding school. As a consequence, my parents were highly condemned and disparaged on the ground of educating daughters.. I encountered gender inequality for the first time in my life, when I was just a seven-year-old girl and when my parents were forced and influenced to drop us out of the very school. The most horrible moment was when my own maternal uncle persuaded and forced my parents to drop us out of the school instead of supporting us. Despite the untold criticisms, my parents were impervious to other’s opinions and criticisms and they continued to educate me and my sisters. From that very day onwards, I decided to become an activist against gender discrimination and an ardent supporter of education. As years rolled on, I completed my school-level education with outstanding marks in every subject. I excelled in not only academics but also shone in extracurricular activities. I was fond of reading, writing, painting, public speaking, dancing, and singing since my early childhood days. I always had a keen passion for learning new things every day. Also, I was punctilious in terms of academics. As a result, all these habits and temperaments fostered me to advocate education in life. In short to say, the more I grew in such a society, the more I realized the importance of education in one’s life and that Education was the birth right of everyone. Also, as I grew up, I used to hear a lot of unwanted practices going on in society and also in various countries, such as brutal rape cases, child marriage, corruption, etc and I knew that these horrible events could only be mitigated by using education as a primary weapon. Therefore, all these factors led me to advocate and work in the sector of education.
I agree with an immortal quote by Haim Ginott, a child psychologist, that, “Children are like wet cement whatever falls on them makes an impression.” Also, talking about the composition of the population in my locality, there are more children than adults. Therefore, stressing the fact that today’s children are tomorrow’s future leaders and the most valuable resources of any country, I decided to do something that would foster the importance of education in not only the mentalities of Orthodox but also in the young minds of these innocent children.
Also, when I was a young girl, I saw the children of my age, older than me and even younger than me desperate for receiving a quality education, but their dreams were buried forcibly before they could even seek an expression. Therefore, I too wanted to be the voice of such children so that no other children would have to get their dreams and aspirations killed due to ignorance in the upcoming days. Therefore, all these events led me to work actively in the sector of children.
3)Can you tell me about your “Education for all-Keep learning, Keep growing”? When did it start? How it is being implemented now and the impact of this project on society?
Belonging to such a conservative society, I always had a burning passion to do something remarkable that would foster the sense of the importance of quality education and the necessity to eradicate the deeply-rooted gender inequality in my society. With this belief, I initiated a project, “Education for all-Keep learning, Keep growing” with the support of my family amidst the pandemic on 15th of Baishakh,2077. Moreover, there are no good and adequate facilities for digitalized education in my community due to a lack of knowledge regarding the internet and technology. The majority of students struggle for the most basic education in my society. Therefore, I used the open space in my house to establish a clean and well-ventilated classroom to provide in-person education to all of the students in my community, by following all the safety protocols of COVID-19. I teach all the children of my locality as well as other municipalities too. I not only teach them the contents available in the book but I also provide them a platform to showcase their latent talents thereby promoting extracurricular activities along with quality education. Even I am continuing the same project currently. Also, I am open to them on various social media platforms like WhatsApp for any queries and questions. The impact of the project,” Education for all-Keep learning, Keep growing”:
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE- A two-year-old girl who could not even hold a pencil mastered alphabets, numbers, Nepali alphabets, and even words within about just seven months. Also, she was able to sing in front of her classmates thereby showcasing her hidden talents as well. Therefore, academic gratification was high in society.
BREAKDOWN OF THE TYPICAL STEREOTYPE-I was extremely obsessed with the positive changes and growth in my locality. I was able to convince those set of orthodox people about the importance of quality education through my works. As a result, the people who never prioritized education also send their children to my classes. The person who once opposed education criticized the supporter of education, and who did not educate her son decided to educate her grandson after realizing the power of knowledge. As a consequence, the number of incoming children increased exponentially with children from other villages too. I was highly satisfied with this and was boosted to do even more. As a result, I received dozens of love and support from the people of my society.
GENDER EQUALITY- Initially, only six children came to attend my classes with boys outnumbering girls even though there was an equal number of girls and boys in the society. I too conducted timely and healthy seminars stressing the necessity to eradicate the deeply-rooted gender inequality in my society. I invited not only the guardians of the children I taught but also another Orthodox present in my community. As a result, after about one and a half months of the initiation of the project, the number of incoming children increased exponentially with girls becoming at par with boys. In short, to say, I was able to maintain gender parity in society unlike before when education was prohibited to girls. In addition to that, during the first week of my project, I decided to ask everyone’s ambition in their respective life. A little girl stood and stated proudly that she was going to be a doctor in her future. The reaction given by one of the boys to her statements just shocked me when he said that girls were meant to be nurses or housewives. I felt that it was necessary to change the mindsets of future leaders. Therefore, I taught him about the importance of gender equality and that gender offers no impediments when it comes to either rights, professions, opportunities, or even pay for equal work.
Miraculously, after about twenty-six days I asked the same question to everyone, and the same girl stood and reiterated the same statement, and the same boy said, ” We respect your dreams and support you. You can do this.” I felt victorious as I was able to change the mindsets of young children like them, thereby preparing them for a better future.
MONETARY REWARD- When I started my project, I meant it free for all because the people in my society were never ready to pay for education before. But, about one and a half months after I initiated my project and during my first seminar, the guardians came up with the proposal to offer me monetary help to express their love and thanks for the work that I had done. They were willing to pay on their own out of love and they decided the rate for particular classes. I realized that I had created a positive impact in my society because the majority of the people decided to pay for my classes out of their will, who rarely paid for the education before. When asked, they answered that the change I brought about in the children regarding their education and behavior was worth the payment and they did not have any objection to it. I felt victorious at the moment because I was able to convince them at large. Also, after the implementation of the project, I realized that it was the lack of education and ignorance that killed the dreams of children and not the poverty because the majority decided to invest in education.
BEST SCHOOLING-More than half of the children were admitted to the best schools after about nine months when the schools started the admissions process, although they were located far away. I felt happy when the children got to study in some of the best schools and unlike before, now the guardians are willing to invest in their respective sons, daughters, granddaughters, and grandsons. I visioned the bright future of my country Nepal and also of the world as a whole.
4)What kinds of programs do you initiate to encourage children to exhibit their creativity?
I not only provided bookish knowledge but also created a platform where they could expose their hidden talents. I opened my classes for the whole week. I did not let the classes off even for a day. I used to teach them according to the routine and every Friday or Saturday I used to organize “Extracurricular Classes” I provided different themes every week for art and craft classes. I arranged various cultural programs, art, and craft classes, and competitions, calligraphy competitions, quiz competitions, riddle competitions, essay writing competitions, sports competitions, etc thereby, unleashing the creative potential within them. I motivated them with various awards like gifts, star badges, colors, thereby promoting healthy competitions among them Miraculously, I saw the future singers, dancers, athletes, painters, essayists, poets, soldiers, social workers, teachers, engineers, doctors, pilots, politicians, etc before me, coming to attend the classes. Also, I motivated those children who did not believe in their inner powers and capabilities. As a result, wonders happened! They started working harder to another level and started believing in themselves. Thus, I started emphasizing motivation as one of the factors in helping others get up on their own. Being a student fanatically willing to receive a quality education in life, but belonging to such a conservative society, I have realized the importance of an existence of a mentor who could facilitate quality education. Therefore, in my classes, I tried my best to incorporate the best teaching pedagogies for an effective teaching-learning system.
Being a well-rounded student, I have realized the necessity of extracurricular activities in life. Eventually, I found out that some students were excellent in both academics and extracurriculars. Also, I found out that some students who did not perform well academically were incredibly fantastic in sports and arts. In this way, I provided a common platform for every student to realize their respective strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, those students who were called nerds and bookworms started to dig deeper within themselves to hunt their inner capabilities and give them an expression. Also, the students who were good only in sports started working a little harder in their studies. In this way, they started to perceive their lives from a different angle with better insights. Furthermore, in terms of academics, I also introduced new teaching methodologies apart from traditional ones. I found out that some students learned better through visuals, whereas others did best with audio learning. Therefore, I implemented various techniques for effective learning. Above all, I realized the power of motivation in helping students to believe in their inner capabilities. I got to know that some students did not even attempt just because they were told that they did not have good intelligence. They were simply hopeless. But, I made them realize that “Hard work beats talent” and miracles happened! They started believing in the power of hard work.
5)What are your future plans that you are planning to execute in the upcoming days?
I have always believed that if we want to see the change in the world then we have to be the very change in the first place. Moreover, I am an enthusiastic believer who believes in the power of her dreams, visualizes her aim, and strives to achieve that aims and visions. I have always dreamt of educating every people and uprooting the unwanted social practices as gender discrimination in my society ever since I was a young little girl. Also, I have worked a little bit towards this pursuit through my project and experienced growth, happiness, change, although, I had to go through sufferings, criticisms, pain at the beginning.
Nevertheless, I am hopeful about my beliefs and my hard work. Therefore, I want to reinforce my project and I also want to do something great and concrete in “Shree Bhim Jyoti Elementary School”, a school in my locality and which was established by my grandfather with a vision to dispense education in the village. But, unfortunately, today the condition is really poor and the infrastructure is low. Therefore, I aim to work actively in this sector with the support of GTH. I have always learned to dream higher in my life. Thus, I aim to increase the literacy rate in Nepal where every person is respected irrespective of his/her ethnicity, class, creed, and gender. Also, I want to make it global because I believe that education can open the narrow-minded doors of every people. It can help people understand each other better and also help every people make sound decisions. Through education, we can bring unwanted things like sexual assault, hostility, corruption, child marriage, etc to an end although, it may take some years.
Hence, I want to make education a global phenomenon, and a place where education is not at all a hardship be it for a girl or a boy, and where every young girl and woman can breathe freely and with conviction without having to fall victim to brutal rape cases, child marriages, etc.
Therefore, I vision myself as a constantly working woman, striving at every point of her life to uplift and grow other’s lives.
6)What message would you like to deliver to teenagers?
We are capable of doing much more than what we are just measured. Stop looking at yourself from the eyes of other people who are there to discourage you from embarking on the most wonderful and adventurous journey of your life. Remember to surround yourself with people that add value to your life. Surround yourself with a healthy company, listen to their ideas, stories, and even apply the best ideas in your community as well. Also, share your stories and inspire them for a positive cause. Be prepared for the challenges that your life has to offer to you, face them, learn from them, but NEVER GIVE UP because giving up should never be an option in one’s life. Stay POSITIVE and OPTIMISTIC at every point of your life because ” When a dark and lonely night passes, a fresh and hopeful morning always comes.” Therefore, keep on motivating yourself, discover the solutions to your problems, keep working, but DON’T QUIT.
Glocal Teen Hero is a platform for teenagers to identify and honor outstanding teenagers whose creativity, commitment, experience, and strong leadership have helped them achieve success in an increasingly challenging environment. This award recognizes and honors the exceptional teen whose work is sustainable and who can think out of the box addressing the issues and creating an impact in society. Fostering a collaborative community among recipients and strengthening the national recognition of today’s young leaders is a primary goal of the Glocal Teen Hero Award.