Holistic and Innovative Education for Tribal Girls

Focus area: Children’s Education, Women’s Empowerment
Location: Hapur, Uttar Pradesh (program site); serving girls from far Northeast

Background: Tribal communities in India’s Northeastern states possess a wealth of natural resources and traditional knowledge. But they also suffer from instability, illiteracy and poverty. The girls from this region often have little opportunity to receive quality education in their home states.

Tribal girls playing kabaddi, a tackling game

IDRF has partnered with Shiksha Bharati to provide innovative and holistic education for these underprivileged girls through a unique residential program. The program enables mainstream education for tribal girls at a nationally-recognized school in Uttar Pradesh and empowers them with all-round life skills. The Shiksha Bharati curriculum combines academics with physical, moral, spiritual and cultural development. The school produces young women who are bold, confident and ready to tackle the challenges facing their communities. Our goal for this program is to educate and prepare these girls to return to their community as advocates for women’s empowerment and education.

IDRF provided guidance and financial support to Shiksha Bharati to construct a dorm for these students; today the dorm is as an integral part of their education. The dorm includes a media room, library, game room and room for judo practice. These young women also build livelihood skills on site; they make handicrafts, study medicine in a herbal garden, and manage a dairy with 20 cows.

Girls make traditional handicrafts to build their livelihood skills

IDRF’s support in expanding the school’s athletic fields has benefited all the students, as they win new accolades in sports.  A Shiksha Bharati student recently won the national judo competition, while 13 of her classmates won first prize in a national yoga competition.

On the academic front, Shiksha Bharati students are performing exceptionally well, earning competitive scores in the nation’s rigorous board exams. Recent tribal graduates of the school have returned to the Northeast where they teach local girls, breaking the cycle of social isolation and poverty in their communities. Other tribal alumnae are pursuing higher education or working in social services.

A music room at the dorm provides for all-round growth

Warmed by the progress and success of the students, IDRF has joined hands with Shiksha Bharati to establish an endowment fund to accommodate more tribal students. While Shiksha Bharati will cover their tuition, the endowment fund will cover the girls’ boarding and lodging, in perpetuity.