Lives in Indian slums are dominated by vicious cycle of poverty and apathy. The limited availability of livelihood and opportunities for skill building have created a cobweb around the lives of the slum dwellers, most of whom are migrants and usually work as daily wage labourers. As a result, most of them do not have any goals or aspirations in life apart from ensuring their daily meal. Further, slums are also the breeding ground of crimes and wrongdoings, engendering from their continuous resentment and government apathy. The kids of these migrants often spend their time in wasteful activities like rag picking and pilferage, consuming easily available drugs or aimlessly wandering in the area.

We at Eklavya realized that this impasse in slum dwellers lives can only be broken by providing their children  a  fair  chance  to  change  their  lives – a chance which only quality education  can  provide. We found that while many individuals and institutions were already working towards educating underprivileged children in slums in and around the Delhi-NCR region, most of them focused only on non-formal education. Given the context, we realized that the solution lies in imparting quality education along with providing constant all-round support. This would help slum children get acquainted to the formal education system, helping them realize their dream of being at par with children who have such opportunities.

Thus, the journey of Eklavya started in 2011 with the focus on slum children getting basic education for a year or two to be educationally at par with children of their age group, ánd to help them become a part of formal education system later. Since its inception, Eklavya has operated from the Prempuri slums of Jharsa village in Gurgaon, Haryana. The initiative started with on philosophy that quality education, along with focus on all-round development, could provide slum dwellers a fair chance to change their lives in a meaningful way.

Journey so far

Eklavya focuses on the all-round development of children so that they can derive maximum benefit from the education that is being imparted to them. Hence, all the initiatives of Eklavya are aligned towards creating an ecosystem for providing sustainable learning for the children. Eklavya was established when we started teaching three siblings, aged 7, 5 and 4, who used to pick rags. After teaching for one year, we got them admitted to a public school. Since then, Eklavya has grown and we have been continually taking steps to facilitate development of the slum’s kids.

Providing education

Currently, 500 children are studying at Eklavya. Our team of 20 qualified and motivated teachers guide these children. Eklavya currently operates in two shifts (8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.). Kids who show a keen interest in studies and demonstrate academic competence are selected for enrollment in formal English-medium schools. While attending the school, these students continue to attend afternoon/ evening classes at Eklavya. We continuously monitor their performance at Eklavya through interactions with school officials and hold advanced or remedial classes for the students depending on their performance. We also provide school uniforms, books, stationery, bicycles for transportation (to those who need them), etc. We monitor the progress of the kids using tab based online assessment and develop personalized learning plan for the kids.

We also conduct parent-teacher meetings on a regular basis to apprise the parents about their kids’ progress and developmental areas. To assess kids’ performances online and providing periodic improvement reports to donors and other stakeholders, we’ve launched a new initiative to formalize assessments of pupils and keeping track of their performance. Thanks to Alllearn, a vendor, we now create syllabus compatible assessments, correct them, and keep tabs on scores and personal and class development. In addition to the software, Alllearn provides one full-time employee to create and administer assessments, and the discuss potential knowledge gaps/ other findings with our own staff.

Promoting extracurricular activities and sports

The children are taught vocal and instrumental music by volunteers. We have enrolled two kids in a music training institute. We also conduct periodic programs on drawing and painting, singing and dancing, and games and sports to provide a platform for the children to display their skills and to develop holistically. Eklavya won the Silver Medal in one of the Football Tournaments (Khel Yatra 2017) and individual medals in Khel Yatra 2020.Eklavya in conjunction with IIT Delhi, hosted a football tournament in 2019 for underprivileged kids.

We also regularly invite individuals of repute to Eklavya to engage with students on various opportunities that are available for pursuing various passions. Till date, we have conducted more than 150 such sessions on sports, mountaineering, dramatics, singing, dancing, painting, quizzing, etc.

Online learning through Project Drona

Project Drona was conceived as a special project by Eklavya Trust to connect online teaching volunteer communities globally with underprivileged schools across India. The project currently has the following components:

  1. Personality development, communication and life-skills coaching

This component of Project Drona helps children develop their personality and improve their command over the English language through dedicated educators who guide and help them in understanding their strengths and weaknesses. We cover subjects and issues that are relevant to the kids but are not covered in the formal school curriculum

These include health and sanitation, sex education, spoken English and personality development, positive thinking, motivation, navigating away from bad influences, career counselling, drug abuse and mentoring, moral values, etc.

2.Curriculum-focused coaching

Math and science classes are conducted by the educators with the help of the online learning portal —, a site which has specific topic-wise content material. Such coaching helps in the analysis of the students’ understanding of concepts and aids in developing customized learning plans.  The portal also provides scope for the individual assessment of every student.

3. Mentorship program

This component comprises one-on-one online discussions between mentor and mentee on various challenges faced by students in their surroundings, including the school and family environment. In addition, the child‘s specific needs, dreams and aspirations are identified and discussed through interactions between the mentor and the student‘s parent, local guardian, etc.

Conducting Medical Camps and Providing medical assistance

We place tremendous emphasis on hygiene, nutrition and health, and teach the children the importance of cleanliness, exercise and diet. We have partnered with some doctors and NGOs which periodically conduct free medical camps. We, in partnership with these doctors and NGOs, also provide medicines and nutritional supplements to the children. Recently, Boston Scientific India, conducted health camp to examine kids and provide corrective interventions.

Activities with leading organizations

Mr. Gautam Kumra (Managing Director, McKinsey India) along with other partners (Mr. Puneet Chandok, Mr. Suvojoy Sengupta, Mr. Sasi Sunkara) support Eklavya in multiple capacities. Mr. Kumra also visited Eklavya to celebrate Independence Day with the kids. On a regular basis, the children learn music, painting and theatre at McKinsey’s Gurgaon office. One of the leaders Mr Vishal Malik from McKinsey India teaches guitar to kids on a regular basis. The kids have given live performances at McKinsey’s “Value Day”.

Similarly, Deloitte has been partnering with Eklavya for its Impact Day celebrations for the last six years. Leaders from Deloitte like Ms. Manjula Banerjee, Mr. Jitendar Agarwal, Mr. Jaideep Bhargava, Mr. Shubhranshu Patnaik, Mr. Vinesh Jain and Mr. Rohinton Sidhwa are associated with Eklavya. In addition, organizations such as Affle, ERM India, and Henkel Jebel Ali FZCO are associated with Eklavya and conduct various events.

Water, Sanitation and Safety

To ensure that the children get at least one square meal a day, we have started offering food to all the children who attend our morning classes. For this purpose, we have partnered with Rasoi on Wheels, an NGO that offers food on the go to the underprivileged, to provide nutritious food to the children. While this is currently being done on twice a week basis, we hope to make this a daily offering very soon. We have also purchased a commercial RO purifier and water cooler in Eklavya to provide access to clean water. We have installed CCTV cameras in the premises to ensure safety of the kids. 3 maids have been engaged in cleaning of the toilets and building premises.                                                          

General knowledge and ethics sessions

We conduct regular sessions on general knowledge, cultural awareness and moral science to ensure the holistic growth and development of the children.

Periodic training and review of teachers

We provide periodic training to our teachers. For example, we partnered with Magnify to train our teachers on the outcome-based learning methodology. To make learning an interactive process at Eklavya, we hold regular feedback sessions with the kids. Further, regular tests for teachers are conducted through Genius Corner to ensure that teachers are always up to date with their learning and pedagogic practices.

Participation in community activities

  1. Drug-free childhood campaign: Drugs are huge menace that plagues the lives of children in slums. To raise awareness about the harmful effects of drugs, we trained the children to perform a skit and recorded it. We showed this video to children in nearby areas to help them understand the detrimental effect of drugs.
  2. Swacch Bharat Mission: We conduct regular training sessions on cleanliness to ensure that the kids understand its importance. The kids have also participated in a cleanliness drive in Sector 29 of Haryana to help India achieve the goal of “Swacch Bharat”.
  3. Eklavya representatives actively participate in meetings of Gurgaon Municipal Corporation.