Throughout India, gender disparity remains a significant barrier to education.
Close to 4 million girls across the country are out of school. Without an education, these girls suffer from extremely low literacy rates, poor health outcomes and alarming rates of child marriage.
In Rajasthan, where nine of India's 26 'critical' gender gap districts are located, 40% of girls drop out of school before they reach the 5th grade, and the female literacy rate is only 44% compared to 76% for males.
Educate Girls was established as a scalable, sustainable model to reduce the number of girls out of school, and to improve literacy and numeracy in critical gender gap districts in India. Educate Girls mobilises educated youth volunteers from local communities into 'Team Balika' groups.
Team Balika members act as 'girls champions' at the community level, supporting the immediate needs of girls by conducting school enrolment campaigns in their villages and working with girls in classrooms to improve learning outcomes and life skills.
The organisation also encourages parents and community members to change attitudes towards girls' education and to advocate for improved school quality.
Educate Girls has brought more than 70,000 girls back to school and reached more than 650,000 children.
Its 2005 pilot programme has now been replicated in more than 7,500 state schools across Rajasthan.
The organisation's work with School Management Committees, through the implementation of school improvement plans, has seen an increase in the proportion of schools with drinking water, from 46% to 82%, and seen the proportion of schools with separate girls' toilets increase from 44% to 71%.
Photos: Suchit Nanda