We're on a mission to transform the opportunities of a rural village in India

Real learning

We go beyond academic attainment to
holistic personal growth

Inspirational healthcare

Our programme for pregnant women is the first of its kind

Community change-makers

Local insight + our professional oversight = successful and sustainable change from within

Detailed, long-lasting support

Trustees Ed & Ash's deep relationship with the school
bring consistency, accountability, and strong leadership

Building for the future

By acting locally, ecologically, and sustainably.

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Our action-research school creates durable community-led change.

Education

Health

Community

Three pillars of meaningful, sustainable support.

We’ve integrated them to create a community project like no other.

We think schools are about so much more than just education, they’re about changing lives. There is also far too little (read virtually none) quality education available in rural India.

So we created an action-research school-cum-community centre in rural India to demonstrate how quality education can be provide in the most challenging of circumstances to the people that need it most.

Our school, called Hunar Ghar, serves the community of Bakhel; a remote subsistence farming village and one of the most marginalised in India. They are afflicted by complex poverty including severe malnutrition, poor health, poor economic status, lack of political influence, high child mortality, and high child labour rates. Government efforts to change this are advancing too slowly.

It is the privilege of Educate for Life to work with the community to identify their problems and be a part of a transition away from poverty, by providing our own services and empowering the government to meet their responsibilities.

We run a school, and we provide health and community support. Our one team does both, ensuring deep integration between the two leading to high levels of complementary benefit making real change happen faster.

We’re a tiny team making a big impact, and you too can be a part of that change. Immerse yourself in our website then, when you’re bursting to get stuck in, contact us and immerse yourself in our deeply rewarding change process.

How it all began

Educate for Life is run by us; two friends, Dr Akshay Patel and Ed Forrest. We both had unusual dreams as teenagers – to build a school in rural India.

When we met at university and discovered our shared aspirations we set up Educate for Life and started on a journey to bring high quality education to the world’s most marginalised communities, so that no child should miss out on a secure future through the misfortune of circumstance.

To raise our first funds we tried to get 1 million people to give us 2p each. The BBC ended up covering this, and coming out to India in 2007 to document us building the school.

Recently at Educate for Life...
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Is my school any good?

By | community participation, Education | No Comments

Ed Forrest, Founder and CEO of Educate for Life reflects further on the experience of Hunar Ghar’s self review facilitated by Adhyayan.  One of the most important aspects of the process was getting the pupils involved, helping them to understand what makes a good school and encouraging them to question and assess how well Hunar Ghar is doing.

In the majority of schools across India, parents, children, and community members are disenfranchised from participation.  Around Hunar Ghar, schools are closed 50% of the time, teachers absenteeism is 75%, and the structure designed to empower parents – the school management committee – isn’t constituted.  As a result, enrolled children get just 3.5% of the teacher exposure time they should.  Given this poor provision of education it is curious that rural people, when they don’t send their children to these non-functional schools, are accused of not valuing education or caring for their children’s futures.

At Hunar Ghar, we develop and demonstrate how schools can be effective and functional in low resource settings.  Involving stakeholders is central to our approach.  The space for someone to express an opinion on something that effects them, and for structured action to be take on their feedback, is key to our approach.

When we discovered the Adhyayan school self-review process, it was clear that it is a tool that can be effectively used to do this.  To work, it requires the input of parents, community members, teachers, students, and school management – all the people involved in running and using the school.

As such, the self-review process we conducted last week was characterised by some key successes. We had important participation from the children.  They were exposed to a framework to help them understand if their school is good or not, and tools to evaluate performance in areas that effect them.  Equally, illiterate parents and community members were orientated to the same framework, and in doing so were shown what they can expect from a school.  For both, it was four days of them exploring the school with clear indicators of ‘good’, and sharing and expressing their findings and perspectives.

As CEO, it was an opportunity to engage directly with the children and parents in reviewing their school, to gain insight into how they see it, and understand their point of view.

The situation was similar for the teachers.  The tool gave them clearly defined expectations of the school and its management.  It provided a forum for observing how other teachers worked and for the management to value the teachers’ input in the school development process.

Going forward, the team has already initiated integrating the AQS tool. Our principal Chandrakant Sharma is leading the development of an approach to embed the tool in the weekly practices of stakeholders.  The teachers who participated are this week training the other teachers to use the tool and the evidence collecting techniques.  This Saturday, they will discuss the approach further based on their experiences.  We are looking at how the tool can be embedded in class councils, the school council of children, teachers’ weekly practices, and our school management committee.

Within this, the team are prioritising the six domains of a good school that the tool looks at and mapping out how they will approach them in the next twelve months.  They are also evaluating each indicator, and defining a process to modify them so that as a school we will have indicators that are the most useful to us and the village community at Hunar Ghar.

This work is being incorporated into our school annual development plan.  This means that children and community members will now be able to play central roles in making their school better.  Hunar Ghar already performs well above average.  With the self-review embedded in our daily practice, we expect even more exciting developments.

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Our School Self Review Experience

By | Education, school news | No Comments

Last week Hunar Ghar underwent a School Self Review and Evaluation facilitated by Adhyayan. In a recent post Menaka Raman, Online Communications and Social Media Lead for Adhyayan, explained what the Adhyayan Quality Standard (AQS) assessment entails.  Ed Forrest, Founder and CEO of Educate for Life, has shared his experience of conducting the AQS at Hunar Ghar on the Adhyayan blog and we have reproduced his entry here…

Read More

A family in Bakhel, one of 370 surveyed by our team.

First ever comprehensive survey of all households in Bakhel

By | charity news, India | No Comments
Our Hunar Ghar Project Manager, Kanan Silvera, and Community Health Coordinator, Vishnu Priya, have just completed the first ever comprehensive survey of every household in Bakhel. Here Akshay Patel, Founder and Trustee of Educate for Life, explains why the survey was necessary…

Back in January 2014, we gathered information from local government offices in Udaipur about the size of the five villages which make up Mandwa panchayat  (the area where Hunar Ghar is situated ) and the numbers of children attending government run schools in the area.  Armed with this data, our team then visited the villages and schools.  The aim was to understand their needs and to assess the proportions of children regularly attending local schools in order that we could plan how we might best support them and their surrounding communities.  What the team found was a real surprise. Read More