New Delhi, Jun 19: For most Muslim girls belonging to economically weak families in south east Delhi's Jaitpur Extension, a high school education is a privilege they cannot avail for reasons both financial and religious.
Jaitpur Extension, a resettlement colony near Okhla, houses poor and middle class families whose breadwinners are mostly daily wage workers. Consequently, almost every household in the area has girls who have dropped out of school.
However, bucking the trend is a woman - Farida Khan - who runs classes free of cost for such students, some of whom recently took their matriculation and intermediate exams as private candidates from Jamia Milia Islamia University and passed, against all odds.
"These girls wanted to study but could not. The entire area had some sort of negativity. I had been through that stage in my life earlier and thus I decided to change that," says Farida, the Director of 'Pehchan' Coaching Centre where she trains her students.
Pehchan, is a non-government organisation that was registered in 2015.
"The most difficult part was convincing their parents that it is both safe and useful to teach the girls. Many were skeptic initially but as the students fared well in exams, it changed their parents' outlook," she says.
Among her students is the 24-year old Mubeena who recently passed her intermediate exam.
"My father passed away almost 10 years ago. We were facing financial problems and the relatives were forcing me to get married. Everything was mixed up. For a few years, I was imprisoned inside my own house," says Mubeena.
However, things have now changed for Mubeena who also has a respectable job that pays her enough to supplement her family's income. However, for her, education is much more than that job she has landed.
"Education has made me see things differently. Earlier I thought girls were supposed to stay inside the house, get married and serve their husbands. But now I have realised how important it is for girls to be educated," she says.
Apart from pursuing her own studies further, Mubeena wants to work for girls like her who want to study but do not get opportunities.