The education sector in India is witnessing a demand like never before, with the need to educate seen almost as a fundamental right. . However, India’s per capita public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is amongst the lowest in the world. According to a report by the Sankalp Forum, “Exploiting this demographic dividend requires significant investment in all levels of education.” A number of social enterprises have come up in recent years to fill in this need. ImpactPreneurs has compiled the a list of top 10 notable social enterprises that are doing education-focused work in the country.
1. Asha India Foundation
The Asha Foundation or “Asha for Education”, as it is more commonly known, seeks to catalyse social-economic change in the country through the education of underprivileged children.
It is a not-for-profit enterprise seeking to improve slum conditions in India through various methods including educating community members about their rights to safe water and sanitation and training groups in how to engage government officials to seek change.
It was started in the summer of 1991 by three students, themselves, and now boasts of a worldwide presence across US, India, Europe and Canada as well as 1000 active volunteers.
2. Teach for India Foundation
The Teach for India foundation is all about bridging the gap of education inequity in India. It is essentially a not-for-profit organisation, with presence in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. TFI focuses on leadership being at the core of the solution in the education sector. Shaheen Mistry, the founder of the TFI had a strong inspiration from the parallel program, Teach for America. They fuelled their work by alarming statistics, such as- only 20% of children in Grade 3 being able to read a text of Grade 2 difficulty and even by Grade 5, only 53% of children being able to read a Grade 2 text. They now run the prestigious Teach for India Fellowship Program, which recruits several young students and professionals to work in low-income schools at minimal stipends in various cities. Initiated in 2009 with the first cohort of TFI fellows, it now boasts strong of 1,250 fellows and alumni who are making a difference every day. They strongly believe that one day, all children will attain an excellent education in the country.
3. The Akanksha Foundation
Primarily based in Mumbai and Pune, the Akanksha Foundation is a not-for-profit focuses on initiating social reforms through its project, “The School Project”, as well as providing supplemental education to more than 6500 students through its Akanksha centres. The School Project ties up with schools that are ready to partner with local municipalities and provide high-quality education to students from low-income households. The children are taught to have a good educational foundation, strong self-esteem, and a value system to enable them to provide themselves a steady livelihood.
HippoCampus is a for-profit enterprise which is focussed on providing an enriching experience to children through learning with books. Flourishing since 2003, it has opened up experience centres for the city kids in Bangalore and Chennai. Apart from this, HippoCampus has collaborated with over 50 schools, government centres and mainstream schools in Bangalore city. Besides having an astonishing collection of books, HippoCampus organises events and productions that are children-centric, such as “Hoophoria”, their annual three-day carnival, and “Read It! Spread it”, their book collection drive for children.
iDiscoveri was founded in the year 2002 as a for-profit enterprise by three graduate students from Harvard, as a social enterprise seeking to renew and revive the education sector in India. The name, pronounced I-DISCOVER-I, aims to unleash the potential and power of every human mind. The XSEED project, under the same foundation, targets children between 3 to 13 years of age. Located primarily in Singapore, Bangalore and Gurgaon, they use a five-step teaching module which inculcates the process of- Aim, Action, Analysis, Application and Assessment. XSEED now boasts of reaching out to around 3,00,000 students and making an impact on thousands of happy parents, teachers and principals.
6. The Kahani Project
The Kahani Project kicked off in the year 2012, with four founding members from extremely diverse backgrounds. The founders believe in the power of story-telling as a bridge to reach out to the country’s largest kind of disabled kids- the ones with visual impairment. They then let the storytelling take its natural course in shaping and moulding the personality of the child. The Kahani Project aims to crowd-source audio stories and then distribute them either through this website or through mp3 players given to visually impaired children in various institutes for the blind.
7. Bharat Calling
Bharat Calling was a not-for-profit organisation born in the year 2009 as the brainchild of the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ (TISS) internship program of Social Entrepreneurship in Mumbai. Based out of Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh, Bharat Calling enables children from small rural settings to gain access and seek admission in the topmost universities, including guidance in form filling, information, coaching and a subsequent follow up. It was fuelled by the fact that in Madhya Pradesh, 82% children drop out after matriculation and the remaining children end up taking admission in B-grade colleges and universities.
8. Sudiksha Solutions
Sudiksha was a project founded in 2010 by two post-graduates from the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal. Initially, they began setting up various primary schools for the underprivileged as well as collaborating with existing institutions to provide good quality education. Sudiksha has current presence in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bhopal. They, however, soon realized the problems the children faced, impeding them from reaching their potential started before first grade itself. Their basic mission is to uplift millions of underprivileged children from the shackles of poverty through provision of high-quality, holistic education. They also aim to empowering women through career development and entrepreneurship.
Classle is a for-profit venture that connects teachers and students from institutions across the world, to create a platform where most of the educational content is common, and uploaded onto a cloud. The site is designed in a manner in order to attract a vast majority from the tier-two and tier-three cities. It focuses on flexibility, ease and efficient learning through its content. V. Vaidyanathan, who was initially working in an IT company, founded Classle originally in 2010 as a technical platform. It has now blossomed into a highly successful, full-fledged, e-learning platform.
Experifun was founded in the year 2012 by alumni from the prestigious IIT and IIM in order to achieve creation of innovative thinkers in the field of science and techonology. Based out of Bangalore and continuously expanding to other emerging markets such as Philippines and Nigeria, Experifun focusses on STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. They are keen to battle the concepts taught by rote learning and instead, encourage creativity, curiousity and innovation among their students.
While 96.5% of children from ages 6 to 14 are enrolled in school, many do not receive quality education. Even though the public expenditure per student enrolled in government schools is relatively high, education outcomes tend to be uneven. Formal schools are highly regulated; long-standing rules mandate all formal educational institutes to operate as not-for-profit institutions. In contrast, the private coaching and education content space is unregulated. India must seek to battle these inequities and indifferences in this sector. The social enterprises in the education sector, as we have observed, are already doing a wonderful job with this. It’s time we take this forward and make education our birthright!