We provide free quality education. As well as liberal arts, English, Bengali, and Hindi, we teach self-discipline, appreciation for all religions and points of view, problem-solving skills, music, culture, and taking responsibility for social advocacy, to create positive change in the world.
All of our students are from socio-economically disadvantaged families; many are from refugee families who fled persecution across the border from Bangladesh, bringing little with them but hope. Yet these are some of the brightest, most generous children you will ever meet. Most of our students are the first in their families to become literate. Many study hard so that they can teach the rest of their families what they learn at school each day.
The majority of India's children are eligible for government schools, however the drop-out rate is huge: over 57% of girl children enrolled in government schools drop out. Shakti’s drop-out rate is less than 1%. The reasons for this include:
Children are often required to work to feed their families — Shakti works holistically with families to help keep their children in school, explaining the long-term huge advantages, and helping them find alternative sources of income such as women's vocational training for mothers that we provide at no costs.
Girls are often rushed into child marriage by families that often believe that’s best for them - but child marriage girls’ education as they become primary caregivers to aged inlaws and babies of their own — SEEschool teaches girls their rights and benefits of a full education, and supports them in conversations with their families.
Malnourishment impairs the ability of children to learn — Shakti provides breakfast to be sure they have at least one square meal per day.
Health crises in families reduce their ability to let their children go to school — Shakti provides a dispensary of homeopathic medicines to help the community and the students and their families.
Books and school uniforms that government schools usually require, are too expensive for impoverished families — Shakti provides books and uniforms to students to level the playing field.
Many government school teachers supplement their salaries by requiring private tutoring for students to pass their classes, which impoverished students cannot afford — Shakti provides tutoring and libraries free of charge through the high school years, to reintegrate students into the government system in time for college.
Shakti provides personalized support and care so that those who need education the most are able to attend, regardless of their family situation.
Creating a cycle of positivity for women, families, communities, and ecosystems.
Literacy and Vocational Training Programs
Shakti provides literacy and regenerative vocational training programs to provide economic equality and protection for women.
Many are mothers of the children at the school, and many had to work as children themselves. These women show great courage, in spite of the most challenging conditions — most live without plumbing and electricity, and food security, yet they walk several miles each day to attend the school.
Shakti provides microfinancing for 50-100 village women. Women qualify by taking 7 months of literacy classes and training, after which they can apply to become part of the finance groups.
After graduating from our programs, equipped with knowledge, confidence, and business skills, many of these extraordinary women are then able to build new lives for themselves and their families, and even employ other women as their enterprises grow.
Women’s Exercise and Cultural Programs
Shakti provides Women’s Exercise and Yoga, as well as regular cultural programs to help build community and networking opportunities for women, who are often increasingly vulnerable due to their isolation, in a culture that often encourages women to stay home and avoid physical exertion.
Krishna and Ajay Pal-Chaudhuri lead a Women’s Literacy & Sewing Class at SEEschool, as Indrani films for on-line classes.
The importance of empowering women according to UN India
Women in India represent only 29% of India’s labour force, down from 35% in 2004. More than half of the work done by women in India is unpaid, and almost all of it is informal and unprotected. Women are not well represented in most sectors, including business leaders. Though they comprise almost 40% of agricultural labour, they control only 9% of land in India. Women are also shut out of the formal financial system. Nearly half of India’s women do not have a bank or savings accounts for their own use, and 60% of women have no valuable assets to their name. It is unsurprising then that at 17%, India has a lower share of women’s contribution to the GDP than the global average of 37%. In addition, women face great physical insecurity. In Delhi, the capital city, 92 percent of women reported having experienced sexual or physical violence in public spaces.
The economic impact of achieving gender equality in India is estimated to be US$700 billion of added GDP by 2025. The IMF estimates that equal participation of women in the workforce will increase India’s GDP by 27%. More than half of India’s women don’t have cellphones, and 80% don’t use them to connect them to the internet. If as many women as men had phones, it could create US$17 billion in revenue for phone companies in the next 5 years. Globally, women make or influence 80% of buying decisions and control US$20 trillion in spending. There are also social benefits to empowering women. Women spend 90% of their income on their families, and economically empowered women boost demand, have healthier and better-educated children, and raise human development levels. One in three private sector leaders reported that profits increased as a result of efforts to empower women in emerging markets.
Women’s economic empowerment is central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality
Women’s economic empowerment includes women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets; their access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies; and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions.
Economies grow when more women work
Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. Conversely, it is estimated that gender gaps cost the economy some 15 percent of GDP.
Women’s economic equality is good for business
Companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.
Children's School at Ramakrishna Vedanta Vidyapith provides a well-rounded education,
including English language education, to children aged 3 to 9.
Secondary School at Gupinath House and Gardens provides free tuition for students aged 10 to 16 (Class 5 - Class 10). We also have games, singing and gardening classes on the premises.
We provide all books, materials and uniforms.
Lending library provides textbooks and other materials for 400+ student members, for school and college.
We provide for the community:
Safe, walled school grounds for use by students, Women’s Exercise and Yoga Club, a local sports club, the Veteran Club Volleyball Team, and the Women’s Karate and Men’s Karate clubs.
A free Homeopathic clinic and an MD doctor, who serves more than 70 people from the community each weekend.
A Free Library of English language books and textbooks.
Literacy and vocational training for women.
Microfinancing for women. Cultural Programs with music and meals to support community education initiatives.