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[Weekly Inspiration] Bringing Education to 1.6 Million Out-of-School Girls in India

[Weekly Inspiration] Bringing Education to 1.6 Million Out-of-School Girls in India

According to the World Bank, girls’ education is one of the most important investments a country can make. It helps positively impact nine Sustainable Development Goals, like health, nutrition, employment, and even the environment. Safeena Husain, founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls, agrees.

Educate Girls works in some of the most difficult and remote tribal villages in India, working to combat a mindset that considers a goat an asset and a girl a liability.

“We first and foremost find young, passionate, educated youth from the same villages. Both men and women. And we call them Team Balika. “Balika” just means the girl child, so this is a team that we are creating for the girl child. And so once we recruit our community volunteers, we train them, we mentor them, we hand-hold them. That's when our work starts. And the first piece we do is about identifying every single girl who's not going to school.”

Armed with a smartphone and the Educate Girls app, Safeena’s volunteers go door-to-door to every single household to find every single girl who may have never enrolled or dropped out of school, building a web of information. Using this information, they conduct community meetings, reaching out to individual families, neighborhoods, and even entire villages, bring all of these young girls back to school. And in every school receives basic infrastructure updates – clean water, restroom facilities – to accommodate. But the true next step is a learning program.

“And this is a supplementary learning program,” explains Husain. “And it's very, very important, because most of our children are first-generation learners. That means there's nobody at home to help them with homework, there's nobody who can support their education. Their parents can't read and write. So it's really, really key that we do the support of the learning in the classrooms.”

Over a three-year period, Educate Girls was able to bring back 92 percent of all out-of-school girls back into a classroom. They’re functioning in 13,000 villages, leveraging their technology and their information to educate a critically underserved population. And they believe that their efforts will ripple out from those villages, reaching the entire country and creating a lasting cultural impact.

Watch the full TED Talk here, where Safeena details the full plan to educate more than a million young women in need.