Throughout India gender disparity remains a significant barrier to education. The result is that more than 3.7 million girls across the country are out of school, the third highest number in the world. With 9 out of 26 gender gap districts, the disparity is particularly significant in Rajasthan. Educate Girls (EG) aims to provide quality education for all girls by mobilizing and leveraging public, private, and community resources to improve access to education and school quality.
EG started in 2005 with a pilot in 50 government schools and scaled its intervention from 500 schools in 2007 to 2,342 in 2010, reaching over a quarter of a million children in the Pali district. Approximately 120,000 of these are girls. In 2011 EG signed a memorandum of understanding to enter Jalore district and work with an additional 2,083 schools. Now with an MoU in place for the Sirohi district, EG is prepared to expand its reach to more marginalized girls in some of India’s most challenging regions. EG’s innovative “comprehensive model” for school reform and cluster approach creates depth in the program and allows EG to leverage its impact to enable grassroots change.
Furthermore, by leveraging the government’s existing investment in schools, EG delivers measurable results to a large number of beneficiaries at an extremely low cost and avoids duplication or parallel delivery of services.
In 2012 India was ranked as the worst of the G20 countries to be a woman in, and fourth worst in the world. This ranking reflects rigid social systems, limiting attitudes toward gender roles, neglect and lack of support by parents and community. Such discrimination is paramount in the area of education opportunity. Estimates show that on average a girl in India receives less than four years of education in her lifetime. As a result, India is home to the largest number of illiterate women in the world (over 200 million). EG aims to provide quality education for all girls by mobilizing and leveraging public, private, and community resources to improve access to education.
EG targets the critical gender gap districts of India and works closely with the government education machinery. The project’s focus is:
- Enrollment of out-of-school girls who have either dropped out of schools or have never been to schools,
- Retention of these girls in school for an academic year and beyond, and
- Improved learning outcomes across mathematics and languages.
In order to achieve these targets, EG sensitizes the community towards the importance of girls' education, apprises the community of the socio-economic benefits of girls' education and subsequently builds the capacities of the community to mobilize resources around girls’ education.
In terms of impact, the project has had the following results:
- Enrollment: 58,080 girls between the ages of 6 and 14 enrolled in schools, thereby representing 99 percent girls’ enrolment
- Cumulative impact (girls and boys benefitting from improved schools infrastructure and alleviated teacher capabilities): 567,812
- Increase in girls’ attendance from 62 percent to 87 percent
- Increase of 20-30 percent in learning outcomes across Hindi, English, and Math within a year
- The number of schools with clean drinking water rose from 46 percent to 82 percent and separate girls' toilets from 44 percent to 71 percent
- Team Balika (community volunteers) recruited: 1,495
- School Management Committee meetings facilitated: 8,221
- School Improvement Plans implemented: 17,959
EG hopes to expand to a total of eight gender gap districts in India by 2016 and increase the number of schools benefitting from its intervention from the current 5,000 to over 18,000 in 2016. To achieve this, the project will mobilize more than 6,000 Team Balika volunteers across Rajasthan. Overall, this will allow EG to benefit approximately 1.8 million children.
To date EG has demonstrated success at scale, growing from 500 schools (2007) to over 5,000 today. Over 1,400 Team Balika volunteers have joined EG to champion the cause of girls’ education in their communities. EG has also maintained high impact at low cost by leveraging the government’s investment in education and drawing on untapped community resources. In 2012 EG was awarded $4.25 million (US) of match funding over seven years from the Education Above All Foundation's Educate A Child (EAC) program. The fund amount will allow EG to leverage the full match funding available under this initiative to significantly increase scale.