SCHOLARSHIPS & ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Utilizes community mobilization, legal advocacy and public interest litigation to expand access to quality public education for thousands of marginalized children in rural Haryana.
The Lotus Education As a Right Network (LEARN) leverages both national legislation and grassroots advocacy to get children enrolled in school and to verify that teachers show up for work in the most substandard schools in India, thereby addressing the root causes of a highly corrupt and dysfunctional system. The program operates in rural Mewat, one of the country’s most destitute districts despite being located in the relatively affluent state of Haryana. Its residents, a Muslim minority called Meos, suffer a multitude of afflictions: lack of infrastructure, high maternal mortality rates, sweeping illiteracy, and a flatlined economy.
LEARN navigates various legal channels to compel education authorities to comply with Indian law. Just as importantly, LEARN also fights on behalf of Mewat’s school-aged children for the free education promised by India’s Right to Education Act by empowering the community as a whole. Mobilizing village elders, parents, officials and even religious leaders to become activists for their children’s rights, the program teaches citizens not only the value of formal education but also civic engagement and social cohesion.
The program is recognized by the Haryana State Government as one of the most effective ways to restore the health of the state's public schools. Local participation continues to grow steadily every year. Our highly experienced project manager oversees 70 villages in which he coordinates with schools at the local, district, and state level. Moreover, thousands of parents lined up at our team’s urging to get reimbursed for illegally-charged school fees this year, representing a sea change in the relationship between citizens and educators.
Partner: White Lotus Charitable Trust
Supported By: Lotus Outreach Germany • Humana Foundation
Provides daily transportation to and from school for adolescent minority girls who live too far from the nearest secondary school or college to walk each day.
Mewat, Haryana, is largely populated by the Muslim Meo tribe whose misfortunes clash sharply with more affluent surrounding areas. With a female literacy rate of only 2%, Mewat ranks among the most regressive districts in terms of girls’ education in all of India. The scarcity of schools combined with conservative local attitudes toward female mobility has terrible consequences for an adolescent girl in Mewat: if there is no school in her village, she is forced to drop out. The immediate resource gap occurs in the form of transportation as few villages have schools. Because allowing a girl to travel alone is widely believed to be imprudent, female education typically ends at the primary level, and with girls being forced into marriage at the age of 14.
The Blossom Bus bridges the chasm between parents’ legitimate concerns for their daughters’ safety and a girl’s right to education.
By providing families with vehicles chauffeured by trustworthy drivers to safely deliver their daughters to secondary school and college, the program helps delay the traditional Meo institution of childhood marriage and early childbearing. Giving these girls the chance to develop a sense of autonomy before motherhood increases their capacity for social participation and leadership. As such, the Blossom Bus acts as a powerful corollary to LEARN, our broader education and legal advocacy program in the area. The program currently transports 300 girls to secondary school and 15 young women to college. Until proper secondary schools and colleges become available in all villages, the Blossom Bus aims to rescue girls at this transitional stage, leading the way in establishing female education as a norm rather than an anomaly.
Partner: White Lotus Charitable Trust
Supported by: Impact Giving • Guru Krupa Foundation • GlobalGiving Foundation
Provides after school education and tutoring to children of illiterate laborers in Tamil Nadu.
Stone quarries in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state draw unskilled, lower caste laborers in search of work from across the region. Traveling great distances, migrants typically arrive with their families, or even entire communities, in tow. Impromptu settlements sprout up with little or no access to clean water, sanitation, or health services.
For the children of these families, education is an extraordinary challenge. Although public schooling is provided for free, they quickly fall behind and frequently drop out. Lotus Outreach’s partner, Spirit in Life, has identified a root cause of their difficulties - stone quarry children typically have no adult at home to turn to for help. More often than not, parents are illiterate and even less educated than their children.
Lotus Tutors (formerly Buddha Smiles), a network of local volunteer teachers, was developed to assist struggling primary school students with free after-school tutoring. For less than $15 per student per year, the program not only reinforces formal teaching of basic literacy and mathematics, but also seeks to imbue the program’s children with broader concepts such as critical thinking, conflict-resolution, and human rights.
This inexpensive, nimble program generates a rewarding bond for the children and mentors alike, who are then able to pass an appreciation of education on to a population that most stands to benefit from it. Pushing back against class discrimination, Lotus Tutors prepares these disadvantaged children to compete with those from more privileged sectors.
Partner: Spirit in Life Movement
Supported by: Guru Krupa Foundation