Focus: Children and Youth, Education, Livelihoods

INDIA's population is the youngest in the world, but is also the most illiterate. By imparting quality education to youth with little access to it, Shiksha are changing the future of both demographics.

Aarti, the 13-year-old daughter of a food cart vendor in Gurugram, is a typical beneficiary. With a meagre monthly income of ₹3,000, her father Mahesh never imagined he would be able to give her the education he never received while growing up in rural Uttar Pradesh.

Studying at one of Shiksha's free education centres, today Aarti is blossoming, takes active part in extra-curricular activities and hopes to join the police force one day to ensure everyone in her family and community are safe.

Founded by General OP Malhotra in 2002, Shiksha started off by adopting a government school with 40 children and providing them with basic facilities such as drinking water, midday meals and toilets. Now the organisation helps more than 1,000 disadvantaged children at their own education centres while also mainstreaming them into the formal school system.

As trustee Udai Malhotra explains: “Children from poor families across urban India are still often unable to access quality and affordable education. The problem is compounded for children of economic migrants who come to cities in search of a livelihood. Shiksha works to bridge this gap by addressing the immediate education needs of underprivileged children.”

At their three education centres, 89% are children of migrants from across India. Unfortunately this reflects on the 9% dropout rate with the largest group being nursery-level school goers belonging to migrant labour families who don't return to Gurugram after the summer vacations.

With the parental income of all Shiksha students being below ₹10,000 per month, it becomes imperative for all their education expenses to be met - as Shiksha do - to prevent them from leaving school prematurely. And academic excellence is awarded by scholarships to complete their education in reputed private schools.

In the last two years Shiksha have also focused on vocational training for young people and have started a computer training centre in Sangam Vihar, one of Asia's largest unauthorised colonies.

But their most cherished long-term goal is to establish a model higher secondary school for underprivileged children in Delhi NCR - and they need all the help they can get to achieve that.

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Vocational Training Centres

TO equip disadvantaged young people with necessary skills to find employment, Shiksha run three training centres offering free courses in basic computer training, tailoring, beautician, spoken English and basic literacy for adults in the catchment area. 137 youth have completed Shiksha courses with many finding jobs in companies like Croma Retail, Vodafone, PayTm and Grofers. Skill training costs ₹2850 per student and other admin expenses for each centre comes up to ₹1.5lakhs per annum.

Free Education Centres

SHIKSHA operate three free education centres for over 1,000 underprivileged children in Gurugram, Haryana. They also provide students with free uniforms, books, stationery and a nutritious mid-day meal. As the majority of students enrolled at these centres are children of migrant labour, meritorious ones are also given a full scholarship to complete their formal education up to Class 12 at local schools. It costs about ₹7175 to support one student annually.

About Shiksha

I am studying at Shiksha Education Centre for TWO years. We are from Bihar. Before I used to work but now I like coming here to learn and meet all my friends.

Kamal, 9 years, Shiksha Student, Gurugram

I am really impressed with the dedication and sincerity with which the children are being educated and groomed. It is a great effort not only to make them good citizens also but into good human beings.

Dr Vinay Sahni, retd. IAS Officer and CEO, DLF Foundation,, Gurugram

One of the most powerful tools for the social and economic progress of a country is quality education. It brings with it equality. While privileged children receive quality education, most underprivileged kids are provided with education only on paper.

Anishaa Sahijwalal, Quality Education for the Underprivileged, Times of India,, Delhi

  • Udai Malhotra Trustee
  • Krishan Chhabra Trustee
  • Rampal Rehan Trustee
  • Col. RS Malik (Retd.) Chief Operating Officer
  • Yogender Sharrma Finance Manager
  • Ajay Tanwar Programme Officer