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Project information

Educate and empower 450 girls in West Bengal

In villages just outside Calcutta, 450 vulnerable girls will have the chance to escape an early marriage or trafficking through a holistic approach to education that involves the whole community.

May 2012 - May 2015

Charity information: Karuna Trust

Karuna Trust logo
  • Need


    An entrenched system of patriarchy means that girls are grossly devalued and excluded in key arenas. Education is one such area. The female literacy rate is just 60%. Deprived of education, many girls are married off as early as 13 years old, and pregnancies at a young age are common. The prevalence of child labour and violence against girls in the home has also contributed to the situation where the number of female students dropping out of secondary school is double than that of boys.


    The project will directly tackle current barriers to girls’ education. It will give them the materials needed to attend school, and out-of-school help, such as home visits and help to form peer groups amongst the girls where the focus will be on issues such as reproductive health care, gender discrimination and child marriage.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    450 poor girl children will attend school


    » 450 vulnerable girls will be identified
    » These girls will be enrolled into mainstream schools
    » School fees, uniform, tuition fees and study materials will be provided

    What success will look like

    450 girls will be supported to enter and to continue education at school.

    School progress reports will be testimony to their attendance and achievement.

    Aim 2

    School retention rates will be increased by 70% over 3 years


    » Home visits and meetings with parents will take place to encourage them to be proactive in their child’s education
    » School visits will take place to maintain the engagement of students and teachers

    What success will look like

    School drop-out rates will drop from 72% to 15% over the project period.

    Retention in school will increase to 70% over 3 years.

    Aim 3

    Physical violence and discrimination against girls will reduce significantly


    » Girls Groups will learn about and initiate campaigns against the issues of violence, child labour and child marriage.

    What success will look like

    Success will be indicated through dialogue with the girls and others involved in the community.

    Aim 4

    Girls will be aware of their fundamental rights


    » In the Girls Groups, girls will learn about their rights, such as the right to education and equality safeguards
    » Leadership and life skills training will equip girls to assert those rights
    » Specialist training will be given on the issues of child trafficking, child labour and child marriage.

    What success will look like

    Girls will have an increased awareness of their rights and confidence to access them.

    Aim 5

    Societal perceptions about the status of girls will be improved


    » Awareness-building will take place through posters, rallies and the distribution of informal education materials
    » Meetings with all concerned individuals will sensitise them on the need for girls education
    » Meetings will be facilitated to encourage mothers to send their daughters to school and not to engage in child labour
    » Girls groups will impart their learning through awareness-raising campaigns in the community

    What success will look like

    There will be an increased uptake in the use of educational facilities in the community.

    Parents will include girls' education in their family budget

  • Impact


    This project will break social barriers to empower 450 girls to access education and to become capable of accessing the opportunities of the market economy. We will demonstrate the success of this project by witnessing changes of attitudes in how the community views the status of girls as well as their own self-perceptions. We are also looking to increase school retention rates of 70% over 3 years and for a rise in the marriage age of girls from 13-14 years to 18-19 years.


    Girls’ education has seldom been a priority for parents, so there may be resistance to sending them to school. This will be addressed through building close relationships with parents. Nishtha has experience of working in this area for over 30 years and has a very good rapport with the target community. A further risk comes from how girls may not be used to participating in formal education. Teaching methods and materials will therefore be very simple, clear and engaging.


    Donors will receive regular update on the progress of the project, and any necessary changes that have been made to the project plans.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £22,227

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,095 Personnel Remuneration for Project manager, Social workers, Security and Office assistant
      £10,040 Education-delivery & awareness Books, School uniforms, Awareness materials, posters, furniture
      £2,432 Capacity building Training for child core group leaders
      £1,436 Administration Utilities, telephone, fuel, auditing and accounts, Maintenance
      £2,224 UK Costs UK administration, project management and monitoring
  • Background


    Due to its large population delivering meaningful education in Calcutta is a big challenge. There is an ‘Education for All Mission’ in the state, so most villages have government primary schools. However, many female children quit school mainly due to gender discrimination. Girls drop out of education at a rate of 80%, compared to the 63% national average. Deeply-rooted socio-cultural practices and beliefs relating to females continue to impede their advancement.


    In India, the caste system entrenches a system of inequality by classifying people hierarchically according to birth. 350 of the girls in this project are ‘lower caste’ or Scheduled Caste. 85 girls come from other minority groups and 15 comprise the abject poor from ‘higher castes’. These girls are the most marginalised in India; they experience discrimination on account of both gender and caste. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by their exclusion from mainstream education.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Karuna is pleased to have entered into partnership with Nishtha, the implementing organisation 3 years ago. Nishtha has been working for women’s empowerment at grassroots level for over 30 years. Its position as a community-based organisation with a strong emphasis on participation means that it has gained the confidence and trust of stake-holders. Nishtha has successfully mainstreamed 3033 children into school, 80% being first-generation female children.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Project Manager

    Overseeing the running of the project and liaising with the individuals and authorities involved.

    Social Workers X 2

    Implementing programme activities in the field.

    Accountant/Office Assistant

    Collecting monitoring date from the field and compiling financial reports.

Rakhi, aged 11, with her school certificate

Rakhi, aged 11, with her school certificate


pays for posters to advertise the value of girls