SINCE India gained independence from British rule in 1947, it has made steady progress in primary and secondary education. But there are several stumbling blocks on the road to achieving the goal of universal education. These include lack of adequate funds, physical infrastructure and quality teachers. India spends only a little over 3% of its GDP on education against the benchmark of 6% that every national education policy has set since 1968.
India needs significant mobilisation and collaboration between the government and the private and social sectors to provide quality education to every eligible child.
While the government has to step up its efforts, several nonprofits in India have been filling the education gaps. Here, we list 10 Indian NGOs that are driving the change in education.
Since 1953 when the trust was founded to promote literacy and higher learning in the country, it has undertaken several initiatives to improve the lives of deserving students through education. Project Nanhi Kali, the flagship programme of K.C. Mahindra Education Trust supports the education of underprivileged girls. Since 1996 when the Project started, Nanhi Kali has helped over 4.5 lakh girls.
The focus is on ensuring that girl children from socially and economically marginalised families access quality education and decrease the high dropout rates. The Nanhi Kali project also allows individuals to participate and support the education of girl children. You can sponsor the education of an underprivileged girl child for a minimum period of one year by donating here.
Mumbai-based Udaan Foundation runs a one-year programme to facilitate school readiness for children from low-income communities aged 4-6 years. The idea is to build a strong foundation in language and social skills in a safe, secure, and happy learning environment. Donations to this programme will cover the cost of teachers’ salaries in schools.
After kindergarten, the NGO also continues to support them through school years and until they become employable. You can sponsor a child’s education in Mumbai to help them dream a future beyond slums by donating here.
This Bengaluru-based NGO is helping underprivileged children in rural India access quality of education through technology.
eVidyaloka is combating the severe shortage of teachers in government schools, and its work has benefitted over 20,000 children in over 200 remote villages. This has been done by connecting the children to volunteer teachers worldwide through live and interactive classes.
During the pandemic, the NGO has helped provide access to education through remote learning. Through a small donation of just ₹3 per day or more, you can ensure one child from a remote village has access to education for one whole year. You can support eVidyaloka’s initiative by giving here.
Conceived by Teach for India Alumni in 2017, Pi Jam Foundation aims to provide students from under-resourced schools computing and problem-solving skills.
As most students in India do not have access to the knowledge and skills that will make them part of the productive economy in tomorrow’s workforce, Pi Jam aims to bridge this gap. Computational thinking and problem-solving are two areas in which Pi Jam wants to do most work so that school-going children can be equipped well when they enter the job market. You can support Pi Jam by donating here.
Vanavil helps kids from marginalised and historically nomadic communities, who would otherwise be living on the streets, begging, or worse. Vanavil works closely with the Boom Boom Mattukaran and Narikuravar nomadic tribes, forced to make a living through begging and selling minor wares. Vanavil was started in 2005 in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004 tsunami by a handful of youngsters and has grown with the help of individual donors and foundations committed to the cause of education.
The mission is to educate children, provide livelihood and empower the communities. They also provide personalised care for every student and assist with college or diploma or vocational training. Vanavil needs your support to continue its mission. You can donate here.
Aarti for Girls was started in 1992 in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. Aarti Home is its orphanage for abandoned and destitute girl children.
Aarti fosters and supports abandoned girls by providing them with shelter, education and opportunities to succeed in life. Aarti feels that the best way to bring up children with difficult pasts would be by giving them an environment that is less institutionalised and more family-based. Over 650 students from disadvantaged backgrounds are currently enrolled at Aarti School. Donate here and help Aarti’s efforts.
Vidya and Child was started in 1998 with the single aim of making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children belonging to socio-economically marginalised sections of society. Today, the majority of its learners are first-generation school-goers. The organisation is helping over 1,800 children across five locations in semi-rural and rural settings through its school and after school support programmes.
The pandemic resulted in the complete closure of schools and children, especially girls, being forced out of schools. You can support the non-formal education of marginalised children and help them take their first step towards education here.
Ibtada works for the empowerment of women and girl children in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Ibtada intervenes for education, life skills development, computer literacy, vocational training, transport facility to school and college and support for college fees. The organisation also works with the government education system to improve the school learning environment and outcomes, and empower school management committees. It also provides financial support to improve school infrastructure in government schools.
To inculcate the reading habit and enhance comprehension, a library is set up in scores of schools where Ibtada works. You can support Ibtada in educating more children from underprivileged backgrounds by donating here.
9. Vidya Poshak
Vidya Poshak has a unique programme that identifies bright students from economically disadvantaged families and nurtures them until they complete their higher education and are then helped in finding a suitable job.
The organisation realised early that students who belong to low-income families have limited opportunities in careers because of low-quality education and lack of financial resources. Vidya Poshak has two established programmes – ‘Nurture Merit’ that supports high-achieving students from economically challenged backgrounds into higher education until they graduate and find employment; and ‘Graduate Finishing School’, an initiative to train economically disadvantaged graduates from rural areas in vocational skills.
You can support Vidya Poshak by donating here.
E and H Foundation is a Delhi based organisation working to enable quality education and healthcare for underprivileged children.
Its focus is on the education of underprivileged girl children in Uttar Pradesh. It is partnering with highly successful models on the ground and helping them scale up at a very low cost. Currently the foundation has partnered with the Gyan Shala model that is helping children achieve grade-appropriate learning in classes 1-4 at a low cost of ₹5,000 per child per year compared to average government cost of ₹12,000 per child.
Since its inception in 2012, E and H Foundation has reached 19,000 children in three districts of Uttar Pradesh and aims to reach 1,00,000 children by 2025. You can support the NGO in reaching that aim by donating here.
(This article was updated in November 2021)
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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.