Nanhi Kali

Project Nanhi Kali currently supports the education of over 58,000 underprivileged girl children from poor urban, remote rural, tribal and conflict afflicted communities across 7 states of India.

Project Nanhi Kali was initiated in 1996 by the K C Mahindra Education Trust (KCMET) with the aim of providing primary education to underprivileged girl children in India. Anand Mahindra, the founder of Nanhi Kali, believed that educated women form the foundation of a modern secular society and felt that there was a strong correlation between the existing societal ills in India such as spiralling population rate, dowry deaths, caste system etc. and no education of the girl child.

He believed that empowering the girl child with education would result in huge benefits for the nation in the long term. Studies conducted in developing countries have shown that this is true and today, even the World Bank has acknowledged that there is no investment more effective for achieving the millennium development goals than educating girls.

According to the World Bank some of the benefits associated with girls’ education include reduction of child and maternal mortality, improvement of child nutrition and health, lower fertility rates and improvement in economic production. Moreover the benefits in the form of reduction of abuse and exploitation of females are huge.

So it was with the dual objectives of impacting the nation’s development through education of the girl child & encouraging Indians to “give  back” in a focussed manner that Anand Mahindra began Nanhi Kali, a sponsorship program, where individuals could support the education of a girl child in India.

Since 2005, the project is jointly managed by KCMET and Naandi Foundation, (an independent and reputed not for profit organization) with has an objective of providing 10 years of quality education to girls from economically disadvantaged families. 

The program selects girls based on multiple criteria including enrollment in government schools, family income, parents’ educational background, social background and the child’s aptitude. A comprehensive sponsorship is created to take care of a range of their educational requirements, providing not only academic support that enables them to make a success of their schooling experience but also material support including uniforms, school bag, shoes, socks etc. to enable the girl child to go to school with dignity.

The material kit is ceremonially handed over to each child at the beginning of the academic year. The Nanhi Kalis receive academic support through a 1-2 hour class conducted before or after school hours called the Academic Support Centre, where concepts in Maths, Science and Language are taught to bridge the gaps in learning and enable children to attain grade specific competency levels. The teaching methodology includes the extensive use of innovative teaching tools and activities such as story telling, group games etc which make learning not only meaningful but also fun. The Nanhi Kali team also works with the parents and community to sensitize them on gender equity.

 Key outcomes of the project have included witnessing a significant increase in both enrolment of girls and attendance of girls in schools.  Drop out rates of girls have been curtailed to less than 10% within the program compared to national level figures of 30% at Primary level and 70% at the Secondary School level. Further assessments done by a third party have reported an increase in learning outcomes ranging from 40% improvement in tribal Chhattisgarh to 78% in Mumbai slums within a period of a year. The goal of Project Nanhi Kali is to support the education of 100,000 by March 2011.