Shimla “It has given new direction to my life,” said Prerna, a tenth standard student, as she takes the self defense tips from a trained cop in the premises of Government Senior Secondary School Summer Hill near here with other girls, on Monday. Hitherto a fickle minded girl, Prerna displays a lot of resolve in her voice now, as she says, “I am getting confident now and feel equipped.”
Actually, when the 41 girls of ninth and tenth class in the school do the self defense exercises together in the school hours, Taking some time off the academics, it makes a lot of difference to them. They do not like to miss this class at all as it was the energy booster, power and most of them now want to continue even after the formal training of two weeks. “Now I can also participate in sports as training session makes me physcially fit,” said Vinita, a tenth class student, who keep herself away from sports.
All these girls are ready to spare extra time for academics to cover up their loss, as they have to miss the classes for two hours for this ‘empowerment’. Girl from rural background, who do not have much exposure otherwise have enjoyed the self defense training. “All these girls eagerly await the self defense session every day. It has helped them a lot. I can see the confidence writ large on their faces now as a general attitude in the school,” said Principal of the school, Tenzin Dolma. She said such self-defense training is must, given the current era, where safety of girls is an issue.
And they are not the only ones. Around 1.5 lakh girls in the government schools across the hill state have taken lessons from the male and female cops on self-defense over the last two years. The Police department is helping the education department implement a part of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan, a central programme. The exercise has almost become a much required lesson in the school curriculum for girls as the cops from the pool of trainers in Police department (who are apt in unarmed combat training or have taken courses in Marshal Arts) move from one school to another for the job. Police constable Kamal Kishore, a national medalist Taekwondo player from the state and a trainer in self defense, said the girls of junior classes, who are not covered in the programme, also evince great interest to learn the techniques.
“In some schools located in isolated places in the interior villages, the school authorities want us to train the boys also to make it safer for them.” Kamal has travelled to farthest of schools in Shimla district, including Dodra Kwar, the toughest pocket across the Chansal Pass as a part of his duty in this programme. For him, the success is that while it has given much exposure to the girls, many of them (including some boys) have later continued with their practice and have started taking part in the sports tournaments at school and even district level. And what can be a ready reckoner for all the new female learners is that the Police department recently came out with a pictorial book displaying the self defense tactics in different situations. The ‘rule book’ will be distributed amongst the girl students in government schools in Himachal Pradesh.
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