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The Right to Education (RTE) Act guaranteed free education for all Indian children up to age 14, marking a watershed moment in the country’s history.

Its passage enabled enrolment at the primary level and promoted standards for school infrastructure. However, the law’s exclusion of upper secondary education and slow implementation prevent RTE from having widespread impact. India is still home to more than 30 million out-of-school children; 40% are adolescent girls.

Gender inequality and cultural norms continue to impact girls’ access to education. Limited access to local secondary schools subject girls to potential harassment, violence or sexual assault on the long trip to and from campus. Families fearing for their daughters’ safety don’t believe their education is worth the risk or added cost.

Our work in India

Education Champions focus on increasing government spending on education to 10% of India’s national budget, which will improve education quality and access to schools. Champions are also working to expand the RTE Act’s mandate to cover free education through class 12 and ensure national compliance of the law, particularly in Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Champions work across India with minority and Dalit (lowest caste) communities — where girls are most at risk — to reenrol and train girls to speak out for their rights.

“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.”

— Bondita Acharya, Director of Purva Bharati Educational Trust


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Where we Work

Malala Fund works in regions where the most girls miss out on secondary education.