Educate Girls

​Educate Girls aims to provide equitable access to education for all girls in India. Its primary beneficiaries are out-of-school girls in rural communities. They strive to boost school enrollment and learning with local volunteers who mobilize parents and communities and by delivering supplementary remedial learning curriculum. 

Their annual demonstrated impact includes:

  • Re-enrolling 250,000 out-of-school girls back in education.
  • Supporting nearly 300,000 children with their remedial education.
  • Signing of an agreement with the State Government of Rajasthan to train over 20,000 government teachers and educational officials in the identification and enrollment of out-of-school children across all 33 districts of the state.

Key Strengths: Scale, Durability, Proximate leadership

Multidimensional Poverty Index Indicators: Years of schooling, School attendance

Other Key Outcomes: School enrollment, Learning outcomes, Early pregnancy rates, Early marriage rates

Recent Expense Budget: US$12,313,000

Year Founded: 2007

girls enrolled
students with improved learning outcomes
community volunteers engaged across 32 districts in India

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The problem: sociocultural barriers keep girls out of school.

Educate Girls operates in over 18,000+ villages in three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh in India. By leveraging the Government’s existing investment in schools and engaging with 18,000+ community volunteers, Educate Girls work towards the enrollment and retention of girls and improving foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for all children (both girls and boys). Since its inception, with the help of a network of 18,000+ community volunteers, Educate Girls has successfully enrolled over 1.4 million out-of-school girls into schools and retained an average of 92% of them year-on-year and improved learning outcomes for over 1.9 million children through its learning curriculum.

India faces a significant gender disparity in education, particularly in the central and northern states of the country [1]. 5.8 Million girls aged 5-15 are out of school and at the permanent risk of never entering a classroom and completing their education. Exacerbating the issue of access to education, the quality of education provided in government primary schools is mostly very weak, resulting in poor learning outcomes.

Girls, especially those in rural areas, are often expected to adhere to regressive deep rooted social and patriarchal norms. Therefore, they are confined to doing household chores, agricultural work and even early marriages. The ripple effects of not educating a girl manifest in issues ranging from child marriages, early pregnancy, poor health, lower self-esteem, becoming vulnerable to abuse, limited economic potential and an overall lack of well being and reduced personal agency. Research shows that enrolling girls in schools and improving their learning outcomes can lead to better outcomes across all of these dimensions. 

The solution: change mindsets and improve the quality of schooling.

Educate Girls works towards holistically tackling issues at the root of gender inequality in India’s educational system. Research finds that it is essential to work closely with local communities to change mindsets rooted in gender inequality to effectively address sociocultural barriers that prevent girls from accessing education. Educate Girls works with the government, community and village-based volunteers called Team Balika to ensure every girl in the remotest parts of India is enrolled in school and learns well.

Educate Girls tackles the problem at its roots by focussing on the following key activities:

  • Increasing girls’ enrollment and retention of marginalized girls in rural geographies.
  • Improve quality of learning by implementing a remedial curriculum in school thereby improving the learning outcomes for students.
  • Increasing the involvement and capacity of communities in school management thereby improving school governance and infrastructure.
  • Enhancing motivation and self-esteem of girls, and promoting girl leadership through Bal Sabha.

The organization has mobilised 1.2 million girls aged 6-14 years for enrollment to date, retained 90% of them year on year and improved learning outcomes for 1.7 million students.

How Educate Girls works

Educate Girls Primary Program has two main objectives:

1.  Enrollment of out-of-school girls (OOSG), and retention of 90% of the enrolled girls year on year.

  • Identification and enrollment of out of school girls:
    Educate Girls’ staff and community volunteers (Team Balika) conducts a census-like extensive activity known as door-to-door survey that helps in identifying the exact number of girls who are out of school. Having identified the OOSG, Team Balika persuades and convinces the parents of each girl to enroll her in school.
  • School Management Committee (SMC) orientation and training & School Improvement Plans (SIP):
    In order to improve the school administration, Educate Girls facilitates the formalization of a 15-member council to form the School Management Committee (SMC). This consists of parents, teachers and village leaders and is responsible for school governance and administration. Then, Educate Girls trains the committee members and provides them with handholding support to prepare and execute School Improvement Plans (SIP) and conduct school assessments. The SIPs are prepared by the SMC for improvement of the school infrastructure like separate toilets for girls, electricity, water, roof, boundary etc., jointly with support of Educate Girls’ staff. The SIP once prepared is then submitted to the District Task Force of the government to unlock the state funding.
  • Bal Sabha (Girls’ Council) formation and Life Skills Training:
    Educate Girls facilitates the formation of the democratically-elected Bal Sabha (Girls’ Council) for girls in grades 6-8. This 13-member council gives the girls a voice and a leadership position in the school. Educate Girls’ staff and Team Balika impart training in “life skills” to boost confidence, communication, leadership, public speaking, health, sanitation, critical thinking and problem solving skills through various games throughout the academic year.

2.  Improved Learning outcomes

  • Remedial learning curriculum implementation: Gyan Ka Pitara (Repository of Knowledge): 
    In order to improve foundational learning levels (numeracy and literacy), curriculum is implemented in schools for children in grade 3, 4 and 5. The curriculum is implemented with the use of specially designed kits called Gyan ka Pitara (GKP). The learning tools focus on building micro-competencies in English, Hindi and Math. Each kit contains over 250 worksheets per child, ensuring no child is left behind. While designing the kits, the needs of the most marginalized children have been taken into account to make sure that the curriculum is child-friendly and context-specific.
  • Baseline & Endline evaluation of learning curriculum:
    In line with guidelines of widely accepted and used ASER tools, a pre-test is conducted before GKP handholding to ascertain the learning levels of the children. The effectiveness of the learning curriculum is ascertained by conducting post-test at the end of the academic year after the curriculum is implemented in schools.

Educate Girls primary program model complements the existing government set up to usher in a holistic systemic reform for the girls in rural parts of India.

What makes Educate Girls so effective

Compounding impact

Every girl educated is more than twice as likely to send their own children to school, generating intergenerational impact. Moreover, indirect impacts of education are visible across all aspects of a girl’s life, ranging from higher income, improved health and overall empowerment (Educate Girls)
Educating a girl can have multifold impact:

  • 14% reduction in child marriage
  • 2x more likely to educate her children
  • Reduce class & income inequalities
  • 2.2 times less likely to be HIV+
  • Contribute to global economic growth
  • Be more empowered

Proven results

Educate Girls has scaled from a 500-school pilot in 2007 to over 50,000+ schools in over 18,000 villages across 32 administrative districts in India. With the help of a network of 18,000+ community volunteers, Educate Girls has successfully enrolled over 1.2 million out-of-school girls into schools, and retained on an average 90% of them year on year and improved learning outcomes for over 1.7 million children through its learning curriculum.

Educate Girls implemented the world’s first Development Impact Bond (DIB) in education in partnership with UBS Optimus Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan to impact 7,300 children. This 3-year (2015- 2018) results-based financing project tied funds to pure outcomes and was intended to be a proof of concept. The final year results declared in July 2018 showed that Educate Girls’ DIB surpassed its target outcomes with 160% of the final learning target and 116% of the final enrolment target achieved.


Educate Girls’ programmatic intervention hinges around a cadre of change agents called Team Balika (village-based volunteers) at the village level, who become Educate Girls’ voice and advocate gender equity and the importance of girls’ education, week after week, year after year for anywhere between 8-10 years in the local villages. The program facilitates community ownership through Team Balika, who come from the same educationally backward geographies. As they belong to the same village, they understand the community’s needs and priorities and are best positioned to work with parents to address mindsets and concerns and spark behavior change. They are community mobilizers working as champions for girls’ education and catalysts for school reform at the village level. Through their support, Educate Girls empowers community members by educating them about their rights to bring about the necessary change.

Technology for impact

Using a combination of door-to-door data collected from surveys conducted by Educate Girls in three states and innovative advanced analytic techniques, Educate Girls built a predictive model (using a Machine Learning algorithm) to identify villages for future program sites that are most likely to have the highest concentrations of out-of-school girls. Through this, Educate Girls identified that just 35,000 villages in India hold up to 40% of the out-of-school girl population and was able to pinpoint the hotspot villages with large out-of-school girl populations. This approach enabled the organization to reach more out-of-school girls with the same resources in a timely manner.

Educate Girls’s accountability and sustainability

While targeting educational outcomes (enrollment, retention, and learning), Educate Girls’ intervention at the ground level focuses on mindset/behavior change in conjunction with systems change, which together have delivered higher efficacy and sustainability than single strategy solutions. From the very outset, Educate Girls works closely with both communities and the system (government) to ensure that the gains made during its presence in program villages are sustainable even after they decide to phase out of the said villages

Through involving the community based volunteers, who are the change agents at the village level, and become Educate Girls voice, Educate Girls advocates gender equity and importance of girls’ education, week after week, year after year for anywhere between 8-10 years. This persistent and vocal presence results in a mindset shift in the community. The logic is simple here – reinforce the message of equity and education across stakeholders over years and witness mindset/behavior/systems change with achievement of improved education outcomes. Through formalizing and training the School Management committee, Educate Girls aims to make a section of the community cognizant about their rights and responsibilities, thereby eventually leading to an overall behavior change where they actively participate in education-related matter.


Recognition for Educate Girls

Educate Girls has gained significant recognition over the years.

  • In 2015, they were awarded the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, which provided them with US$1.25 million in core support investment. Two years later, founder Safeena Husain was recognized with the Women Transforming India Award for her transformational impact.
  • In early 2019, Educate Girls was the first organization in Asia to be chosen as one of the TED Audacious Projects. The Audacious Project is a first-of-its-kind coalition of leading organizations and individuals that surfaces and funds critical projects with the potential to create global change.
  • In 2020, Educate Girls’ solution to empower 1.5 million girls to go to school was chosen as one of MIT Solve’s new Solver classes, while Educate Girls’ aspiration to empower millions of girls to re-enroll in school was selected as one of the most inspiring innovations in the HundrED 2021 Global Collection.