Project Nanhi Kali, which translates to ‘a little bud’ in Hindi, supports the education of underprivileged girls in India. Designed to support girls from low-income families to complete ten years of formal schooling, the project has impacted the lives of over 550,000 girls (called Nanhi Kalis) from underserved communities across 15 states of India.
Project Nanhi Kali was started by Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, and is an initiative jointly managed by the K. C. Mahindra Education Trust and Naandi Foundation. The project strives to empower girls in some of the most remote corners of the country - from hamlets in rural Maharashtra, to tribal settlements perched on the Araku hills in Andhra Pradesh, from the far-flung border districts of Darjeeling and Shravasti to the tiny by lanes of Varanasi. Project Nanhi Kali handholds hundreds of thousands of girls through their hopes and hardships.
Over the last 27 years, Project Nanhi Kali has ensured disadvantaged girls in India have a successful schooling experience. While doing this, the project has also ensured that these girls were not forcibly sent off to work in the fields, kept away from school for household chores or sibling care or worse married off early or trafficked.
While educational support is a key component of Nanhi Kali, the project goes much beyond academic assistance. The project builds self-belief and resilience among the Nanhi Kalis and works with communities to create conducive ecosystems in which girls are supported to reach their full potential. The objective is to ensure that while the girls perform well in school, and complete schooling, they are also infused with the conviction that they are deserving of every opportunity in life.
Every girl in the Nanhi Kali project receives comprehensive year-round support including:
Academic support and access to an adaptive learning software via digital tablets: Daily academic support is provided at Nanhi Kali Academic Support Centres which are set up within government schools and operate for 2 hours before/after school. In partnership with leading EdTech organisation, Educational Initiatives every Nanhi Kali at these centres receives access to a personalized, adaptive learning platform called Mindspark. This widely recognized software has been proven to significantly improve learning outcomes amongst users. Through Mindspark, Nanhi Kalis learn Maths, their local Language and English from Class 1-10, and additionally, Science from Class 6-10. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, Mindspark matches instructions to the learning level and pace of each Nanhi Kali, ensuring that she learns with understanding. The software is pre-loaded onto digital tablets, allowing access to quality education even in remote locations.
Trained Women Tutors: Project Nanhi Kali is an initiative for women by women. Nanhi Kali tutors (called Community Associates) are women from local communities who facilitate learning and mentor the Nanhi Kalis through their schooling and also engage with parents/community stakeholders to create girl-friendly ecosystems. Over 6,000 locally recruited women have been trained to become agents of change in their communities and run the project’s on-ground implementation.
Sports Curriculum: A professionally designed sports curriculum has been built into the programme, giving Nanhi Kalis the opportunity to participate in sport and fitness activities regularly. As part of the Nanhi Kali sports initiative, the Nanhi Kalis participate in the annual Toofaan Games, comprising of village, block, and district level games. This culminates to the finals at the national level.
School Supplies Kit: A kit including a school bag, stationery and a pullover/raincoat is provided to every Nanhi Kali annually. With 45.6% of teenage girls in India still following unhygienic menstrual practices* a 12-month supply of branded sanitary napkins is included in each kit to help the girl attend school with dignity.
Project Nanhi Kali is one of the most cost-effective sponsorship models, providing annual support to every girl, including access to an advanced digital learning platform, trained tutors, a sports program and school supplies, for no more than Rs. 500 per month.
Educating a girl does not only improve her own life and the life of her family but also plays a pivotal role in the advancement of her community and the nation at large.
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(*Source: TAG Report Project Nanhi Kali, 2018)