EVERY year January 24 is celebrated as International Day of Education and as National Girl Child Day in India. Educating the girl child is undoubtedly one of the most powerful empowerment tools. It has been well-established worldwide that ensuring girl children are sent to school and further studies can break barriers posed by traditional stereotypes and exclusion.
Better educated women from economically poor backgrounds tend to participate more in the job market, earn higher incomes, ensure their children embrace education and uplift their families from poverty. They are also better informed about nutrition and healthcare, marry at a later age, and have fewer children should they choose to become mothers.
As India celebrates International Day of Education and National Day of Girl Child, we look at top NGOs helping girl children in rural and urban areas with low family income and lack of access to education.
Ever since it was founded in 1953, the K.C. Mahindra Trust has undertaken several initiatives to improve the lives of deserving students through education. The Trust’s ‘Project Nanhi Kali’ is one of India’s most extensive programmes that enables underprivileged girls to complete ten years of schooling.
Under the project, young girls from underprivileged backgrounds get academic support and annual supplies of school kits etc. It allows the girls to attend school with dignity. The project has supported over 4.5 lakh girls ever since the project was launched in 1996.
The organisation was founded with the support of education experts and partner NGOs such as UNICEF, Pratham Rajasthan, SERVE, and Dream Catchers Foundation to develop the one of the most cost-effective and sustainable models to educate girls in the country.
Educate Girls endeavours to create a better future for girls to escape the cycle of poverty through education. The organisation works very closely with government schools through community ownership, empowering rural communities, and mobilising local youth volunteers ambassadors for education.
Formed in 1992 in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, Aarti’s main focus was to take care of destitute girl children. It was one of the first orphanages in the district to be started by an NGO.
Today, Aarti fosters and supports abandoned girls by providing them with shelter, education and opportunities to succeed in life. Over 650 students from disadvantaged backgrounds are currently enrolled at Aarti School. Besides enrollment in the school, Aarti provides food, clothing, medical and psychological care girls under its care.
The organisation works for an inclusive and equal world for girls. It strives to achieve this through the empowerment of young girls from marginalised communities with the education, knowledge and skills needed to pursue their dreams.
So far, 40,000 children and their communities have benefited through the activities of the Milaan Foundation. By 2030, Milaan hopes to empower 10 million girls across India and build a movement of girl leaders. The ‘Milaan Girl Icon Program’, is one such initiative for adolescent girls between the ages of 12-18 with leadership qualities who are groomed to raise awareness and unleash their potential.
Ibtada has been working to empower women and girl children in Alwar district of Rajasthan. It promotes women’s institutions and girls’ education in the district, having reached thousands of households in the last two decades.
It works closely with government schools to improve the learning levels of students and focuses on bringing girls from underprivileged backgrounds to schools. Ibtada provides free computer education to girls from rural poor households.
It also has a programme for young girls to build confidence, provide exposure, awareness, and hone leadership skills. This is implemented through sessions in local government schools and village-level Girls Resource Centres.
This organisation’s journey began in 2011 with a small group of children and women from impoverished families in the slums of Topsia and Tiljala in Kolkata. Ek Tara aims to provide high-quality holistic education to enable community transformation.
Ek Tara runs a programme for underprivileged children through which it ensures that they are equipped with a strong foundation before they join the formal school system. At the end of each cycle, the students are assessed and sent for admissions to various schools – private and government schools.
More than 20 years ago, Sukarya took its first steps to improve the health of women and children in rural areas and urban slums of north India. So far, those first steps and the journey have benefited over 5 million people in over 600 villages and 100 slums across the country.
Girls’ education has been a focus area for the organisation. One of its most successful programmes is ‘Education on Wheels’ that uses a bus equipped with teaching aids to visit children in the slums to educate them. The project aims to educate children whose parents have no choice but to leave them to fend for themselves during the day while they are away earning for the family.
Ever since its founding in 1989, Snehalaya has come a long way from being focussed on education programmes for a handful of children of sex workers to reaching out to other sections of society.
From raising awareness of how women can be empowered to offering rehabilitation to women who are most in need of it, to providing education to the children of underprivileged women, Snehalaya has adapted to the needs of the communities it serves.
The trust has been promoting education for the girl child, women empowerment, environment and holistic health care since its inception in 2001. Based in Chennai, the Trust’s Girl Education for Empowerment Project focuses on improving the conditions by which girls, especially those in the marginalised communities, can access quality education.
Following the Right to Education, Vishvodayaa Trust has been actively engaged with other agencies and the larger civil society to support girl child education in its true spirit.
Established in the year 2003, Dream Girl Foundation is engaged in providing a better future to underprivileged girls by providing education and other basic necessities to them. It has a team of teachers, medical practitioners, and other volunteers, who work for the betterment of deprived girls.
The foundation also works closely with the authorities to stop the exploitation of the girl child in the underserved sections of society.
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Kumara has been a professional journalist for over 15 years with stints in The Telegraph and Reader’s Digest. He grew up hating maths and physics. He is a post-graduate in history. Kumara believes that cricket and Seinfeld have answers to most questions that life throws at you.