Nanhi Kali Initiative: Educating Girls

Around the world, 129 million girls are out of school, including 32 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67 million of upper-secondary school age. In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school as girls living in non-affected countries.

The reasons are many. Barriers to girls’ education– like poverty, child marriage, and gender-based violence- vary among countries and communities. Poor families often favour boys when investing in education

Project Nanhi Kali, a non-governmental organization was founded in 1996 at K.C. Mahindra Education Trust by Anand Mahindra to educate underprivileged girls in India. Project Nanhi Kali, which translates to ‘a little bud’ in Hindi, was designed to support girls from low-income families to complete ten years of formal schooling, the project has impacted the lives of over 450,000 girls (called Nanhi Kalis) from underserved communities across the country.

It is one of the largest programs in India that enables underprivileged girls to complete 10 years of schooling. The project provides daily academic support as well as an annual support kit, which allows the girls to attend school with dignity. 

It is jointly managed by the Naadi Foundation and the K.C. Mahindra Education Trust, which is part of the corporate social responsibility activities of the Mahindra Group. Sheetal Mehta is the president of this non-profit organization. 

Sheetal Mehta told the Daily News and Analysis in an interview that “we wanted to create global awareness about the plight of young girls in the country who are denied their basic right.”

Students who are selected for the project Nanhi Kali are provided with both financial and academic support. They attend special classes to learn math, science, and language concepts. Nanhi Kali for the hidden costs of their education, including pencils, notebooks, school bags, uniforms, clothes, and shoes. Funding is done by individuals and corporate donors, who sponsor a particular child and receive regular updates on their progress at school. Sponsors can also go to an online gift store and purchase a particular item for a student. The Mahindra Group sponsors the education of 22,000 girl children through Project Nanhi Kali. 

Over one year, Nanhi Kali students’ improvement in learning outcomes ranged from 40 percent in tribal Chhattisgarh to 78 percent in Mumbai.

To ensure that underprivileged girls are getting their education even during this critical Covid period, the Nanhi Kali team has doubled their efforts by investing in providing quality digital education to girls, so that they are equipped to face the post-covid world. Every girl in the Nanhi Kali project receives holistic support including:

Academic Support and Access to an Adaptive Learning Software via Digital Tablets: Daily support is provided at Nanhi Kali Education Centers which are set up within government schools and operate for 2 hours before/after school.In partnership with leading EdTech Organization, Educational Initiative every Nanhi Kali at these centers receives access to a personalized, adaptive learning platform called Mindspark. 

Trained Women Tutors: Nanhi Kali tutors (called Community Associates) are women from local communities who facilitate learning and mentor the Nanhi Kalis through their schooling, and also engage with parents/community stakeholders to create girl-friendly ecosystems.

Sports Curriculum: A professionally designed sports curriculum has been built into the program, allowing Nanhi Kalis to participate in sport and fitness activities regularly.

School Supplies Kit: A kit including a school bag, stationery, and a pullover/raincoat is provided to every Nanhi Kali annually. With 45.6% of teenage girls in India still following unhygienic menstrual practices a 12-month supply of branded sanitary napkins is included in each kit to help the girl attend school with dignity.

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