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Improving education outcomes for girls in India

Setting the scene

In 2015 a report by PwC India and Save the Children– Forgotten voices: the world of urban children in India – highlighted a direct correlation between student dropout rates and absenteeism due to a lack of sanitation facilities, especially among girls aged between 12 and 17. For deprived children in urban areas across India, access to basic services such as clean water and toilets mean that simply getting to school is a daily struggle. The PwC India Foundation recognised that to improve educational outcomes in this context required a need to address these fundamental challenges.

“The project has helped put a spotlight on hygiene and sanitation especially in Government schools for girls. By stepping in and supporting over 9,000 school girls, they have no reason to miss school today as they now have access to clean, safe and private toilets.”

Saurabh Agnihotri, Regional Manager, FINISH Society

How we helped

One of the many cities where these challenges are seen among the local population is Ajmer, an important education hub in Western India and one of the 20 cities chosen for development as a ‘Smart City’ by the Government of India. In Ajmer, access to WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is poor. This problem creates wide socio-economic disparities that extend to its public and private schools.

In collaboration with non-governmental organisation (NGO) FINISH Society, and with the support of the District Education Department of Rajasthan, the PwC India Foundation conducted an assessment to understand the challenges of schools categorised as having high needs in the region. Then, working with the District Education Officer of Rajasthan, the team identified 11 Government girls’ schools that needed help with the refurbishment or rebuilding of their existing sanitary facilities, together with education for pupils on hygiene and sanitation. The team also designed and constructed innovative toilet blocks that can be easily replicated.

Impact

The programme has resulted in a significant improvement, and saw the pupil attendance level rise to 90% in just six months. Jaivir Singh, Vice Chairman of PwC India Foundation, comments: “Our staff who volunteered came from different business teams offering a range of skills to conduct the assessments. Working with our partner NGO was a true example of merging the strengths of the corporate and social sector to build the positive outcomes and qualitative change.”