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I have followed my dreams through Room to Read's life skills education sessions

Meet Joba from Room to Read Bangladesh | February 15, 2024

Girls' Education Life Skills Bangladesh

Joba didn’t often have much time to study. When she entered lower secondary school, Joba spent her time outside the classroom husking and processing rice from her father’s fields. She prepared straw fodder for cattle as well, and helped her family cultivate and harvest vegetable crops. And she didn’t stop there! On weekends, Joba often anchored events in neighboring communities as Master of Ceremonies, the power of her voice reaching beyond her remote agricultural village.  
Though her familial responsibilities were many, Joba found she had a natural love for learning and dedicated herself to her studies. In Grade 6, she enrolled in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program at her school and began working with a Room to Read social mobilizer, a local woman mentor who worked one-on-one with Joba to help her navigate the challenges of adolescence — from societal gender norms and her family's expectations to finding time to study. With the support of her social mobilizer and Room to Read’s life skills curriculum, Joba developed a study schedule and strengthened her time management skills to ensure she had the time she needed to complete her assignments, even as she continued to support her family.
 

Joba supporting her family's agricultural operations, left; Joba at home, right.

As her passion for learning continued to deepen, Joba excelled in school, going on to achieve the highest accolade in her Grade 8 Junior School Certificate exam. With confidence building and inspired by her family’s work in agriculture, Joba started studying science. She soon found she was interested in humanities, too, and her work as Masters of Ceremonies inspired a growing eagerness to engage in her community and learn more about local politics and government. In Grade 10, as she continued to support her family’s operations, Joba passed her Secondary School Certificate exam with a GPA of 4.89 — out of 5!

"I reshaped my vision for myself after a Room to Read life skill session called 'Who I Am' got me to think deeply," she reflected. "I felt an urge and force within me that drove me to estab­lish my own identity, set my goal and find my passion. I started leading an awareness program as part of Room to Read's group mentoring sessions to advocate for civic duties and development."

“I felt an urge and force within me that drove me to estab­lish my own identity, set my goal and find my passion.”


In 2020, as the pandemic forced schools to close in Bangladesh and around the world, Joba feared her dreams would go unrealized. Though she persevered, adapting as best she could to remote schooling, she was met by mounting obstacles. Joba's elder brother pushed for Joba to leave her studies. He identified what he described as several strong suitors and argued that the family would benefit more from a marriage than from Joba’s education.  
 
Joba stood firm. Marriage, she told her brother and her parents, was not for this chapter of her life. She had dreams that stretched far beyond their expectations. She looked to her Room to Read social mobilizer for guidance and support.   
 
The social mobilizer arranged to travel to Joba's home to discuss the value of girls’ education with Joba's parents in person. They met several times in the weeks that followed, each time discussing the many benefits of Joba's continued education. When girls gain foundational skills in school, the social mobilizer explained, they can continue on to higher education, earn more income for themselves and their families, lead healthier lives and help create more equitable, resilient communities.

Eventually, Joba’s parents agreed: marriage could wait.  
 

Joba, left, with her mother. 

 

“I have followed my dreams through Room to Read's life skills education sessions and all the support I received from my mentor.”


"Mine is an ordinary family with no scope of nurturing dreams of one's own," Joba shared. "But I have followed my dreams through Room to Read's life skills education sessions and all the support I received from my mentor."

As the pandemic continued to keep students from the classroom, Joba participated in Room to Read’s life skill sessions virtually and maintained her one-on-one mentoring sessions via phone. Having consistent access to Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program kept her spirits high, she said, and allowed her to remain focused on her goals of completing secondary school and enrolling in university. In her Higher Secondary School Exam, the last before graduation, Joba secured the highest possible score — a GPA of 5.  
 
Now, Joba is pursuing an honors degree in political science. She plans to serve her village — and her country — as a social development worker. She cites Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program as the inspiration for her chosen path. Her experience in the program, she says, has motivated her to find a career that will allow her to support her community, and, ultimately, change the world.  

 

 

Together, we can create a more equitable world by supporting girls like Joba with the opportunity to develop life skills, complete their education and reshape their futures.  

 

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