Girls First | KGBV Schools, India
Background + Situation | Bihar, India In 2004, the Government of India established the national network of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) residential schools to help address gender and caste disparities in education. KGBV schools serve at-risk girls from ‘low’ castes, minorities, tribal communities, and/or from families below the poverty line. In these communities, girls typically are required by their parents to stay at home and help their families with household chores until age 13-14 years, at which point they are married. As such, many of the girls who attend KGBVs have either dropped out of school during the primary grades or have never gone to school. In order to ensure that the girls continue their elementary-level education uninterrupted, all KGBV schools are residential in nature. Today, there are 3569 KGBVs serving over 300,000 girls in 27 states across India. CorStone Response | Put Girls First! CorStone’s Girls First | KGBV program empowers adolescent girls attending KGBV residential schools to unleash their potential and thrive. The resilience-based program aims to measurably impact three interdependent factors in girls’ wellbeing: emotional health, physical health, and education. In 2015-16, the program will be piloted in 220 KGBV schools in 15 districts in Bihar, India. With a population of approximately 100 million people, the state of Bihar accounts for 8% of India’s population and is one of the poorest states in the country. In 2006-07, the state reported school dropout at 76.71% at the elementary level, with a large number of these students being girls. Today, there are 529 KGBVs in Bihar, annually serving approximately 47,000 girls in grades 6-8. Over the initial 2-year pilot period, over 25,000 KGBV girls will receive Girls First training to improve their mental and physical health, prevent early marriage and early pregnancy, and advocate for their educational and health rights. Girls will receive extensive training in topics such as character strengths, interpersonal communication, problem-solving, nutrition, reproductive health, and gender-based violence—all taught in facilitated peer support groups led by trained KGBV teachers. Girls First | KGBV is made possible through a partnership with the Bihar Education Project Council and Integrated Development Foundation.