The Balika Shivir or the Shivir (the commonly used names for the Balika Shikshan Shivir or Girls’ Education Camp) was a six-month residential education program for girls between the ages of 10-17 years who had dropped-out of school or been deprived of an education. These Shivirs were conducted annually between the years 1997-2009 in different regions of Rajasthan with a total of 63 primary education Shivirs and 8 secondary education Shivirs (grades 6-10) that were conducted by eight branches of URMUL. All in all approximately 11,000 girls have been educated in URMUL Balika Shivirs within a ten-year span.
Within each primary education Shivir approximately 100 girls lived with their teachers for 6-8 months within a well-resourced environment in order to support their accelerated learning. The residential format of the Shivir provided participating girls a safe place and freedom from household and family work, thus giving them time to study and focus on themselves.
The primary education Balika Shivir was conceptualized to be a “bridge program” that would facilitate girls’ entry into schools and their continued education. Accordingly, it included a primary school curriculum for grades 1-5 along with programs that had a health, social justice, and gender empowerment focus. Thus the Balika Shivir had two goals that were developed in direct response to local issues and to facilitate girls’ and women’s well-being in Rajasthan. Its immediate goal was to support girls’ acquisition of literacy skills and their participation in school. Its long-term goal was to make girls better informed about issues connected with their well being and to foster their critical awareness of themselves via-a-vis their communities along with a sense of personal empowerment.