Digital Literacy and Basic Education form the pillars of Ekal’s strategy in Rural India

Education in India and Ekal’s role

While India is making giant advances in software, space, and nuclear power, it is paradoxically still struggling with basic literacy for a large segment of its population. At the time of independence, India’s literacy rate was a staggering 11%. Since then, it has made tremendous strides in educating its people. According to a 2011 census, the literacy rate has grown to 74.04%; however, this figure is still below the world average literacy rate of 84%. The RGI census data states that though the gap between the literacy rate in urban and rural areas is steadily declining, the divide still exists. The literacy rate among the urban population is 84.1%, while the literacy rate of the rural population is only 67.8%. The tribal/rural inhabitants live in remote areas, far from major cities. Those areas are highly deprived of basic amenities, modern facilities and even basic infrastructure, especially on the operational level. These areas are often non-reachable by road and hence neglected by development agencies. In this scenario, Ekal Vidyalaya Movement emerged as the most pragmatic solution to this National Need.

In late 1980s, children in rural & tribal India did not have many options of getting education. According to the census in 1981 only 38% boys & 25% girls in rural India between the age group of 6 to 10 years attended school. This is attributed to several reasons, such as the lack of interest in education, economic barriers, socio-cultural reasons, gender biases and non-availability of accessible schools as stated in the survey of 1986.

Rammurthi Committee Report played an important role in strategizing and setting directions for Ekal Movement. The committee pointed out that “the rural areas in general and the tribal areas in particular, have suffered in terms of resources, personnel and infrastructure facility. This phenomenon of regional disparities in educational development has acquired a major political dimension in the current Indian scene. It is reflected in the regional and sub-regional movements.

Thus the committee pointed out that “No more will a patch here or a patch there will do. The need of hour is a People’s Movement for a New Education, not for a few but for all”.

Based on the clear need and urgency to address the same, Ekal founding volunteers started working with rural & tribal communities as the need indicated in Rammurthi Committee Report and inspired by Swami Vivekananda that if a child cannot come to school than school must reach to the child.

Presently, Ekal Vidyalaya is a movement of over 1,01,417 teachers, 8,103 voluntary workers, 35 field organization (throughout 26 Indian states), and 8 support agencies. It operates in over 1,01,417 schools and educates more than 2.7 million children. Apart from its goal of achieving the national standards of Minimum Level of Learning, Ekal Vidyalaya seeks to empower the village community for its own self-development through five verticals of Functional Education, Healthcare Education, Development Education, Empowerment Education and Ethics &Value Education. Ekal Vidyalaya’s goal is to nearly double the current number of schools to 100,000, providing education to over 3 million children. The dedication of the donors, supporters, and full time Sevavrati volunteers of Ekal Vidyalaya is the key to this Movement’s remarkable success.

Ekal had presented solutions to the many issues surfaced in the survey of 1986. They first tackled the prime issue of lack of interest in education by introducing joyful learning system which is a non-formal method of teaching. In terms of economic barriers, Ekal follows a low-cost model driven by volunteers. The Ekal schools’ schedules are based on convenient hours recommended by Gram Samiti, allowing time to children for household economic activities and domestic chores to be completed. Lastly, Ekal brings the schools and teachers directly to the villages, overcoming the issue of inaccessible schools.

Education Focus Areas


Ekal Vidyalaya

Ekal Vidyalaya is established in a village once a Gram Samiti is formed and takes the responsibility to monitor and support its activities. This brings the local ownership and involvement of the village community. Ekal Vidyalaya ensures five folds education in a village for children and whole village community including rural women, rural youth, farmers and panchayat.


Functional Literacy

Primary objective of Ekal Vidyalaya is to ensure functional literacy among children of the village. Vidyalaya runs usually for 3 hours for 6 days in a week with an average of 30 students. The students are admitted after the assessment of their literacy level, so that accordingly three groups could be formed. The main purpose is to teach basic skills of reading, writing, basic arithmetic, general science and basic social study.


Health Care Education

The other important objective is to create awareness among children and village community towards health and hygiene through demo and providing examples and narrating importance of cleanness in the village so that they are sensitised to take care of their basic health needs. Village community is also sensitised about the importance of healthy and balanced diet during weekly Vidyalaya.


Development Education

Ekal Vidyalaya works with farmers and rural youth to spread awareness about the organic farming. Special camps are organised to train farmers and rural youth to make agriculture a profitable venture. Main focus remains on sustainable models and techniques in agriculture.


Empowerment Education

Ekal Vidyalaya extensively runs awareness campaigns on different issues of national importance. The main focus of these campaigns is on educating village community about different welfare Govt. schemes available for them. RTI, Tree plantation, Bank Accounts, cleanness etc. remain some of other important campaigns.


Ethics and Value Education

Development alone would not make a better society in the absence of appropriate guidance on value system. Considering the importance of the same, Ekal emphasises on ethics and value education as an important aspect in Vidyalaya and also runs mobile cultural centres across its network. Cultural centres bring all segments of society together through different programs, by engaging women, youth & elders of the rural-tribal community in the development programmes.


Ekal Curriculum has been evolved with its journey of more than two decades. The philosophy adopted is based on activity and story-telling. Different people at different level have contributed in bringing the final Ekal Curriculum and presently led by full time volunteers at National Level who have more than 30 years of experience in the field of education with grass-roots understanding.

Ekal Vidyalaya is conducted six days in a week for three hours and following structure is followed:

  • Children in the age group of 6 to 14 years are allowed to attend
  • A maximum of 30 children can be part of Ekal Vidyalaya
  • In the beginning of the year the children are divided in to two groups based on their level of learning skill

Curriculum Includes

  • Basic Literacy, Arithmetic and Science
  • Language – English & Hindi
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Promoting Local Skills
  • Physical Activities – Yoga and Play

To adjust for the differences in culture and language across India, each state has a curriculum leader who is responsible for translating content to the local language and choosing appropriate play and stories based on the traditions of the state.

The Ekal curriculum follows a three year syllabus, which is teaches simultaneously to multiple grades through group learning (also called multi-grade teaching). Teacher teaches various grade levels at different times during the 3 hour day while students would work on homework assigned to them. Older students assist younger students – enjoy learning from older peers.