For children living in rural India, formal schools are often inaccessible or lacking in resources. The nearest town with a school may be far away, and parents are anxious about letting children travel long distances on their own, especially girls. As a result, many children are pulled out of school before they reach their teens—or they never start school in the first place. This is the case in Chhainsa, in Haryana, India, where the nearest formal school is three hours away by foot. READ India partnered with Chhainsa to open a Center in March of 2013 to offer educational resources and opportunities for the entire community—from children to the elderly and illiterate.
Sparking an entrepreneurial spirit and appreciation for education in the community, the partnership with READ inspired the villagers to do more. They realized that their youth were still missing out on a full-time education without access to a nearby school, and decided to launch a non-formal school for children in collaboration with the Center. One of the community leaders—a member of the Center Management Committee—graciously offered to convert his family’s home into a non-formal school for children in the village.
The school follows the national school system’s syllabus and provides high-quality education for children from preschool through fifth grade. It also makes full use of resources available next door at the READ Center, including multimedia facilities, extra-curricular activities, regular health check-ups, and health and hygiene programs. So far, 172 children have enrolled in primary education. In the future, the school hopes to expand to provide secondary education and become affiliated with the National Institute of Open Schooling.
The school not only provides education to children in Chhainsa, but its tuition fees will help to sustain the READ Center (in addition to a dairy cooperative – the Center’s other sustaining enterprise). The community has partnered with READ to create a holistic cycle of education: students attend the school, and its fees help provide resources and opportunities at the READ Center for villagers to continue their education well into adulthood.