Education Champion Network

Bondita Acharya

Director, Purva Bharati Educational Trust (PBET) Champion since 2019
“I live in a society that is governed by patriarchal norms. In every step, we face challenges as women or as women human rights defenders.”
Working with tea plantation officials to ensure girls living on their plantations have access to education

The Issue

Families living and working on Assam’s tea plantations face harsh living conditions and exploitation, including low wages, inadequate schools and poor health facilities, water and sanitation. A lack of childcare forces girls to abandon their education so they can look after their younger siblings. Tea plantations do not have an adequate number of schools and children often have to travel long distances to reach the nearest one, forcing many girls to drop out.

Bondita’s approach

Community Advocacy

Since 2008, Bondita has led Purva Bharati Educational Trust (PBET) to support marginalised women and girls in Assam who have faced decades of conflict and discriminatory customs.

In India’s largest tea-producing state, only 20% of girls finish their secondary education because there aren’t enough schools on plantations. With her Malala Fund grant, Bondita works with officials to ensure plantations comply with laws guaranteeing girls the right to learn. She also supports girls at risk of dropping out and trains girls to influence their communities to enrol girls in schools. These girls also monitor enrolment and retention rates within their communities.

Bondita’s impact

In 2019, Bondita and PBET conducted a baseline survey on the education status of 2,717 girls, ages 6-18, living on three tea plantations. They found that more than a quarter of the girls, mostly adolescents, were not in school in Jorhat, Cachar and Tinsukia districts of Assam.

Bondita and PBET trained 60 education promoters from three tea gardens to increase awareness for the Plantation Labour Act (PLA) and Right to Education (RTE) Act. If successful in ensuring that tea plantations in Assam are PLA and RTE compliant, Bondita’s work will impact 15,200 girls. With the India chapter of the Malala Fund Education Champion Network, Bondita supported the 2020 #SpendOnEd campaign to increase the government’s spending on education to 10% of the national budget.

More about Bondita

Organization's Facebook: Purva Bharati Educational Trust

There are 9 other Education Champions working in India.