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2010 – India

“Adopt a Village” in India

Partner: Free the Children

The Centre for Global Development’s 2006 report, “Inexcusable Absence: Why 60 Million Girls Still Aren’t in School and What to Do About It”, highlights the fact that of these girls unable to access education, 70% come from ethnic minorities and socially excluded groups. Free the Children (FTC) beneficiaries in Udaipur, India are comprised of such groups, namely Adivasis, Dalits and OBC. In India, approximately 41% of children not attending school are ST, SC and OBC peoples. These girls face additional challenges due to traditional gender bias in rural India. Attempts made by the government to improve their quality of life often centers around integration and not inclusion. Efforts to improve access to education need to foster social inclusion rather than integration to preserve their distinct culture.This new project falls within FTC’s community development program, Adopt a Village (AAV). Like all FTC projects, the success of these initiatives relies heavily on active community participation from the project design stage through to monitoring and evaluation.

FTC’s education initiatives are aligned with India’s Ministry of Law and Justice 2009 act on The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education for children aged 6 to 14 defining the legal obligation of the state as a duty-bearer in providing access to education, a fundamental right previously outlined in India’s 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002. To realize these goals, the Government of India introduced the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), its program to achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE). SSA focuses on opening new schools in areas with inadequate infrastructure and facilities as well as strengthening teacher capacity.One of the main components of the SSA program is the National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL). FTC’s activities will contribute to these publically driven causes.

Project objectives 

The 60 million girls Foundation grant funded the launch of the AAV program in a new community in Udaipur over the first two years of a 5-year implementation plan. In the first two years alone, the project would reach over 1000 beneficiaries, including 250 children of whom 50% to 70% will be girls.

Project activities include construction and supply of four classrooms, teacher training, education awareness and community mobilization. As well, a library and community resource centre will be built. A community garden will be set up and nutrition and health education and awareness programs put in place. Latrines will be constructed as well as hand washing stations and a clean water system.

Community ownership throughout the project is instrumental to sustainability beyond the five year plan. During the course of the AAV program, capacity building, promoting gender equality, and community mobilization will contribute to the sustainability of the project’s impact. The final component of the AAV model, alternative income, will also be implemented in the final three years, increasing the economic security of women and families, further contributing to long-term sustainability.

Why a partnership with Free the Children in India?

FTC has been active in India since 1998 and has built 100 schools there to date. The majority of FTC’s projects in India are carried out in Udaipur District in the northern state of Rajasthan where 12% of the population is comprised of Adivasis and over 17% is comprised of Dalits. The communities FTC reaches are almost exclusively populated by ST, SC, and OBC people. These people continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their life, including access to education, economic opportunities, health care, and clean water. Where quality education is inadequate and families need to supplement their income, children are forced into exploitative labour and rural to urban migration. Girls are often employed as domestic servants and face greater risk of sexual exploitation and disease.

60 million girls in partnership with Free the Children for the second time

Free the Children is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education. Their mission is to help children participate in social issues and to realize that they have the power to contribute to change in the world. Through their holistic ‘’Adopt a Village’’ model, Free the Children provides children and their families the tools to break the cycle of poverty. This integrated approach centered on education is what has lead to Free the Children becoming a valued partner of 60 million girls.

In 2007, 60 million girls partnered with Free the Children for the construction of a school in Kenya, in the community of Oloosiyoi in the Massai Mara region. This project has had a very positive impact on the whole community with immediate results in school enrolment of children. The efficient management of the project, the follow-through of the work in the field et regular reporting back to 60 million girls on the progress of the project have made them a solid and effective partner. As well, site visits by a number of 60 million girls members – at their own expense – enabled us to witness firsthand the major impact of this project in the community. It is with great confidence that 60 million girls is once again partners with Free the Children to support the development of children, in this case most particularly of young girls in India.