Sahjani Shiksha Kendra, a community based programme

Nirantar initiated Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK) in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in 2002. ‘Sahjani’ in the local language means ‘one who supports women’. Nirantar’s SSK programme broadly aims at empowering women and adolescent girls through literacy and education, by linking their lived realities to its educational initiatives. This is important as ‘adult education’ is used interchangeably with ‘vocational training’ or ‘functional literacy’, and few initiatives integrate women’s empowerment and social transformation within their educational work. Through its different activities, the programme reaches over 2,500 women and adolescent girls belonging to the most marginalised communities including Dalits (Scheduled Castes) and Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes) in 160 villages across 5 Blocks of Lalitpur District. It has been important to Nirantar to conduct its own field programme, both as a learning ground for itself and for other groups, especially those whose capacity Nirantar develops. Nirantar’s vision is to enable greater autonomy for the local leadership and is actively working towards it. The SSK programmes involve numerous women-centred literacy strategies, processes of collective leadership and access to entitlements and Janishala, a residential learning space for adolescent dalit and tribal girls.