International Women’s Week Essay & Art Contest

March 15, 2015

We are heartened by the support that we at Gyanada Foundation have seen from India, Singapore and around the world. We have grown, not only in size, but also in team, vision and ambition.

As part of our celebrations for International Women’s Week, our new website and other good news, we ran an essay and art competition which saw good response from women across colleges in India.


We’re happy to announce that the winner of the drawing category is Dyuti Sen of Loreto College, who created the above piece which signifies the importance of educating girls in India.

The winner of the essay category is Maitreyee Roy Malakar of IEM, whose article “Education, Freedom and Social Transformation in India” resonated deeply with the judges. Click here to read her winning entry.

Congratulations to both Dyuti and Maitreyee!

We thank all participants for taking part in this year’s contest and we look forward to your entries next year.

Gyanada, Rebooted

March 15, 2015

Welcome to the brand new Gyanada, where it is not only our website and branding which has changed and improved, but also our work in improving girls’ education in India.

In late 2014, we received our 80G and 12A certification from the Indian government, which means we are able to offer tax exemptions to individuals and corporations who contribute from India, from 2015.

We have also spent the last few months creating a database and donor access platform (check it out here), which lets donors view details about their contributions in real-time. It also lets our staff perform their tasks more efficiently, as they are able to keep abreast of the child’s academic and personal development a few times a year when our partners fill out the details. For more information about how it works, have a look at this post outlining how the database works. If you’re an existing Gyanada contributor, you should have received an email with your access details. If not, please write us an email and we will set you up.

We’re delighted to announce the winners for our first International Women’s Day essay and art contest. Maitreyee Roy Malakar of IEM submitted a winning entry, “Education, Freedom and Social Transformation in India”, which resonated deeply with the judges, while Dyuti Sen of Loreto College won with her submission for an art piece signifying the importance of educating women in India. Congratulations to both Dyuti and Maitreyee for your great work! Thanks also to all participants for taking part in our contest. Find out all about the winning entries here.

We are also looking for volunteers and donors to help us take Gyanada forward. If you’re interested in volunteering, here are some volunteering opportunities. Donations are always welcome (and very much needed), and we now accept INR donations through our Indian entity, as well as SGD and USD donations through our Singapore bank account (more details here). Any amount is welcome, though it costs about US$200 / INR 12 500 / SGD 250 to sponsor 1 girl child.

We look forward to hearing feedback and advice from you about how we can do better, and how you would like to improve girls’ education in India together with us. Simply drop us an email or reply to this post and let us know what you think!

Why Private Schools

March 13, 2015

In India, poor parents are increasingly voting with their hard-earned money and choosing private schools over “free” government or public schools.

Indeed, many parents send their sons to private schools and daughters to government schools, for lack of money. While universal primary schooling is now a reality, there is still high dropout at the secondary level – again, especially for girls. We can debate how to make public schools better – as many are rightly doing, and Gyanada plans to be a part of that discussion as well.

But right now data from Pratham’s ASER reports, MIT Poverty Action Lab’s rigorous studies and other sources tell us that private schools are what parents and students want because they deliver better results even after adjusting for socio-economic characteristics for the class intake. Moreover, such philanthropy also doubles up as a public policy demonstrator as often budget private schools in India achieve these results at a fraction of the cost of government schools.

Here at Gyanada Foundation we endorse and advocate for low cost private schools as an alternative pathway to receiving a better education, often in the communities they live in.

To us, private vs public is not merely a question of public policy. It is about whether or not we can improve academic outcomes, and thus quality of lives, right now. Each additional year a girl has of school increases her income by 20%. With the availability of low-cost private alternatives to public schools across India, even in rural areas, we believe we are able to offer a choice to parents.

The research continues to show that students in private schools outperforms those in public schools. Whether or not this is causation or correlation is something which is still being researched, with some preliminary evidence from independent sources reinforcing our hypothesis on private schools (ASER, Poverty Action Lab, and many others). We continue to monitor the policy debates, and to also track the performance of the schools and families we work with in a rigorous manner.

Donors receive special and frequent access to their sponsored child’s academic results. We welcome all debate and discussion on this and other policy matters.

Meet “Little Beta”, Our Donor Access Platform & Database

March 10, 2015

When we started Gyanada, one of the best parts which donors loved was that we sent them report cards and little notes from the kids from time to time. As our activities grew, so did the amount of logistics required to carry out the same experience for all our donors.

I’m happy to announce that with the help of one of our first donors, we have created a database which serves two purposes: it helps our staff keep an eye on the academic and non-academic performance of our kids across different cities, as partners are required to submit frequent reports on some metrics we track (such as grades, and even special abilities or interests in drawing or other activity). We also open up partial access to our donors who are able to track the progress of the girls they have sponsored.

Feature: Profile

You’ll get to see some background information on the child you have sponsored, along with other details about her family or personal characteristics. We track these, as any changes in the family’s economic situation can lead to children dropping out abruptly. We are also interested in their non-academic talents, and in the future we will looking into creating opportunities in those areas.

Donor Access Platform

Feature: Report Card

Academic performance is an essential part of what we do. However, we are a needs-based organization, not one which only awards assistance on merit. Regardless of how they do, as long as they stay in school we continue to fund their education.

Beta - Grades Sample

How Do I Access This?

If you are a current Gyanada donor, you would have received access details via email! (Can’t find it? Get in touch with us and we’ll hook you up.)

We are always looking forward to using technology in innovative ways to solve some of the problems that we face, for both our team and for the work we do. Do you have proficiency in web and mobile development? Perhaps you will be a good fit for our tech volunteer role.

International Literacy Day 2014

September 12, 2014

The little salt seller

The little salt seller

On 8 September 2014, Gyanada staff and volunteers across India participated in Pratham Books’ “One Day, One Story” event as part of International Literacy Day. “One Day, One Story” is an annual storytelling campaign which involves more than 1000 storytelling sessions across the country, designed to provide delightful stories in multiple languages to children from under-served communities.

We organized and participated in events in Kochi, Pune, Kolkata, and Ranchi. We read to more than 500 children, including boys and non-Gyanada children that day. All the kids had a blast, as you can see from the photos here!

Events like these are organized around the year and we are always in need of volunteers who live in different parts of India to provide ad-hoc assistance in school visits, reading sessions and other events. If you’d like to play a part in developing girls’ education opportunities in India, please get in touch and apply to become a volunteer.