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Two women show the way forward in backward Rajasthan village

Tuesday September 20, 2011 11:47:03 AM, Anil Sharma, IANS

Barmer: When villagers see these two young sisters, Fatima and Jainab, teaching at a madrassa in this small village of Rajasthan's Barmer district, they hardly believe it. Only a handful of men can boast of being educated in this village on the western extreme of the country.

Despite being women from a minority community, these two have not only completed 'Aaleema', a religious course considered equivalent to anything from Class 12 to graduation, but also work to the aim of bringing about 100 percent literacy among girls in the area!

As a result, they teach at least 100 girls these days in a madrassa of Kharchi village, around 550 km from state capital Jaipur. They want every girl here to complete Aaleema like them.

"Literacy rate among Muslim girls is very low in our area. Our father had a rare dream that daughters become graduates. It did not matter to him that we were girls. So he sent us to Jamnagar in Gujarat for getting education," the older Jainab told IANS.

The average literacy rate of Barmer in 2011 was 57.49 percent. Genderwise, male literacy was 72.32 percent and female 41.03.

"After completing Aaleema, we thought we should share our knowledge with others who are not as lucky as we were. So we started contacting illiterate girls and requested them to join the local madrassa," said Jainab.

Fatima says that they went from door to door to spread awareness. "The parents here are hardly willing to send girls to school, but they were somehow convinced. Now girls from far-off places come to study," she said.

"The course is more on the religious side, but we have made sure that modern education is provided to the girls. So the girls are being taught computers also," she added.

Two girls, Shaharbano and Latifa, come from Junejon ki Basti village to study. The fact that their place is 60 km away has not kept them from pursuing their dream of completing

"I am determined to pursue studies till am able I get this Aaleema," said Shaharbano, who is about 16 years old.

(Anil Sharma can be contacted at





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