Tarun Cherukuri

Enabling disadvantaged students and families to benefit from India’s Right to Education law.

Location:

New Delhi, India

Superpower:

Compassion

Favorite book:

Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl

Challenge:

In 2009, India passed a “Right to Education” law, which grants free access to private schools for disadvantaged children, giving a much wider range of children the opportunity to leave low-quality public schools in favor of higher-quality options. However, only 15% of the 2.1 million seats in schools are being used, as schools fail to implement the law and parents remain unaware of their children’s rights. Across the country, 29 out of 34 states have failed to fulfill their constitutional obligation to the law, leaving a huge gap between educational opportunity and attainment for poor communities around the country.

Strategy:

Indus Action works with students, parents, educators, schools, and governments in 18 states to implement the Right to Education (RTE) law. Working with local volunteers, Tarun and his team combine easy-to-use technology with personal support to help parents overcome obstacles and exercise their children’s right to education. Indus Action studies the pain points of local families, educators, and government staff in order to help each community implement the law, meanwhile ensuring that girls, students with disabilities, and other vulnerable children retain access to these seats. They pair their enrollment project with a school readiness program to ensure students meet all expectations and thrive in school once admitted. In less than five years, Indus Action has enrolled over 90,000 students and helped families save 12% of their annual income. By 2020, they aim to have enrolled 1 million students, narrowing the inequality gap for low-income school children across India while showing parents that advocating for their rights is possible.

Greatest victory:

“Our work primarily serves disadvantaged communities in India to raise awareness about their rights and enable female community leaders to drive local campaigns by themselves.

One of our first community leaders from Delhi, Ms. Meenu, was selected to represent her district in the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. She was also recently selected by LEGO Foundation to present our work in Denmark and lead a session on “Voice and Agency.”

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