About us

Educate for Life started as the shared vision of two friends, Ed Forrest and Akshay Patel, who met at university in 2003 and who wanted to make a difference to the lives of others. The charity came into being in 2005 and, with the support of family and friends, fundraising to build a school in India commenced.

In 2006, Ed and Akshay met a number of different potential charity partners in India and chose to work with Rajasthan Bal Kalyan Samiti (RBKS), an organisation with specific expertise in serving rural communities and educational provision in Rajasthan. Ed and Ash then visited a number of different rural communities, meeting community leaders and members to find out their needs. The wish expressed by the Bakhel community was clear and simple: a school for our children.

In 2007, the foundations were laid for Hunar Ghar School, the first classrooms were built and the very first students were welcomed through its doors.

Today, Educate for Life remains a small organisation. We are a dedicated team of part-time staff and volunteers, working in close partnership with RBKS and other partners in India to make a difference in and around Bakhel through Hunar Ghar School and new projects and services which respond to the community’s needs.

The Need

Bakhel is a small community situated a few hours away from Udaipur in Rajasthan in India. It is amongst one of the poorest and most marginalised communities in India. Officially classified as ‘tribal’ by the government, the community has not benefitted from rapid economic growth happening elsewhere in India.

 To assess the levels of education, health and overall living standards of Bakhel community members, Educate for Life carried out a baseline survey in 2015. Our findings were deeply concerning.

 Just over 2,000 people live in Bakhel. Families survive through subsistence farming, with 98% of them living below the poverty line. There is very limited infrastructure in place, with over 80% of households lacking access to safe drinking water and 90% of the households lacking access to electricity. A quarter of all households had experienced the loss of a child under five.

 The literacy rate of Bakhel stood at 20%, compared to the Indian national average of 73%. Over 80% of adults over-25 in the community had never been to school themselves and half of all school-aged children were not in any form of education. Instead of going to school, children contribute to their households either by working in the fields or looking after younger siblings. As a result, children are unable to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty.



Balwadi children

Our ultimate aim is to enable socio-economic transformation in Bakhel and the surrounding area. 

Since 2007, Hunar Ghar School has grown considerably and, through our local partners, we provide a range of healthcare and community development services to the whole community, using the school as a hub. We have started a new partnership to improve secondary education provision in the area.

We remain committed to responding to the community’s needs and wishes. We aspire to make a difference to the daily lives and future possibilities of every child who has crossed the threshold of Hunar Ghar.

We hope that the integrated services provided in Bakhel, and the educational interventions being implemented in schools nearby, will become sources of inspiration for best practice in rural education and healthcare in other marginalised communities in India.