Several notions around the functioning government schools and their teachers stand broken when we hear about teachers like Manu Gulati. A Delhi Government School teacher, Gulati has several credits to her name as she works towards building gender sensitisation among boys and girls at government schools. She has helped several young girls receive formal school education from government schools and has worked with them since 2011. For her effort she was honoured with the Martha Farrell Award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment in the Most Promising Individual category.

She started her journey as a teacher in 2004 teaching English subject to students but for the last three years, she has worked as a mentor teacher with Directorate of Education where she aids on-sight academic and pedagogic support to teachers. “This helps me reach out to a greater number of students as I have a group of 20 teachers and whatever I teach them it automatically gets outsourced to other classes, which helps in a cascading effect,” said Gulati to SheThePeople.TV.

Gulati also collaborates with America India Foundation’s “Market Aligned Skills Training Program”, through which she facilitates training programs for beauticians, weavers, sales girls etc. in Jalandhar in Punjab, Betul in Madhya Pradesh and in Baramullah in Kashmir.

“The whole idea is to develop critical thinking ability in women so they are fearless about questioning and challenging the stereotypical notions that prevail in the society. So, wherever they find a suffocating situation in the society, they should be able to raise their voice. When I work as a teacher, I create opportunities for my girl students and include activities in teaching them a particular subject. I use sports, music and dance to teach them English language or blend it with technology so government school students don’t feel that they are being treated any differently than private school students,” stated Gulati.

There is nothing to giggle about when it comes to menstruation and so I didn’t do the orientation about the topic with just girls but also included boys because they too require knowledge around it so that they do not make fun of it or embarrass girls about it.

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Gulati also realised that she needed to do something about the way menstruation was being talked about and stigmatised in schools particularly when sanitary napkins would be distributed among girls. “There is nothing to giggle about when it comes to menstruation and so I didn’t do the orientation about the topic with just girls but also included boys because they too require knowledge around it so that they do not make fun of it or embarrass girls about it.”

She recalled how during one of the orientation classes that she held in the school, the parents of a minority group did not let their children attend any classes. “I went to their homes beyond my school hours to talk to the parents and to convince them to let their children attend the classes,” she added.

This year she won the Martha Farrell Award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment in the Most Promising Individual category. “I am proud that my work to ensure equitable access to education for girls and gender sensitisation with students and parents has been recognised. As a mentor-teacher, I will continue to promote holistic teaching methods that empower and instill self-confidence in girls,” she said.

Picture credit- Martha Farrell

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