Girls First | KGBV, 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 2,578 KGBVs serving over 250,000 girls in 28 states across India.
CorStone Response | Put Girls First!
Girls First | KGBV program empowers adolescent girls attending KGBV residential schools to unleash their potential and thrive. Working in alignment with the national government’s 2020 New Education Policy, the resilience-based program aims to measurably impact three interdependent factors in girls’ wellbeing:
- | Emotional Health
- | Physical Health
- | Education
In 2015-18, Girls First | KGBV was successfully conducted in over 100 KGBV schools, serving over 15,000 girls in 5 districts in Bihar, India. Girls received 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.
In December 2018, CorStone entered into a comprehensive 2-year agreement with the Ministry of Education | Bihar and the Bihar Education Project Council | BEPC to scale Girls First to 50% of KGBVs (265) across all 38 districts in Bihar. During this time, we also established foundational capacity within the government, utilizing a cascade model whereby CorStone trained government Master Trainers who in turn trained KGBV teachers to conduct the program among their students.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, all KGBVs in Bihar were closed for an extended period, serving as quarantine centers for the millions of migrant workers who returned to Bihar from other states. KGBV girls returned to their homes, where many faced a multitude of challenges such as forced early marriage, sexual and physical abuse, economic difficulties due to parents’ loss of employment and/or illness or death, and difficulty resuming their education. As KGBV girls live in remote rural areas, online learning is not a viable option.
Today, KGBVs have re-opened and many, though not all, girls have slowly returned. CorStone is now working closely with the BEPC to roll-out and institutionalize Girls First in 100% of KGBVs (530) across Bihar by 2025, providing the program to 50,000 girls annually.