The Skills Revolution for Girls

In India, millions of young people are entering our economy without the skills they need to get a job or create a job. As often happens,when there’s not enough, girls and women are more prone to being disadvantaged, being financially dependent on others and left out on the mere available opportunities.

We are teaching adolescent girls entrepreneurial and employability skills at schools,before they drop out, without skills. This year, our Children’s Skills Report shows it’s girls, over boys,who are empowered to change their lives the most, if they learn skills at school. We told 9 amazing stories from 9 districts from across Bihar who read skills stories, completed skills challenges and came to school every Saturday to read a new story and learn more skills.

We are sharing with you excerpts from our skills revolution stories.

9 days, 9 amazing stories of 9 kids from 9 districts of Bihar.

Stay tuned for the first story in a few hours and make sure you come back for a new story each day!

Skills4Girls at school

2,137 teenage girls in Grade 9 secondary schools in Bihar told us they go to school so one day they can get a job. By 2030, there will be > 423 million people in India in search of work. Skills4Girls is teaching market relevant skills to girls while they are still at school, so that tomorrow they can create a job for themselves as well as everyone around them. Designing skills for heroes.
Click to vote for us to pitch Skills4Girls @ Project Inspire Grand finals on August 30, 2014. The countdown begins.

All that was new in this year’s first workshop in Ranchi

The first workshop of the year began in Ranchi, Jharkhand where 36 wonderful teachers came from far and near villages to read new stories and play cool new games that teach skills at school.
We had 23 teachers who attended the workshop for the first time and had not attended the previous training in November 2013. Other than the teachers from the Ursuline Provinciate, we also had three Jesuits representatives from two provinces as our participants at the two day workshop.

Our hero teachers from the Congregation of the Ursulines

This was our second workshop with the teachers and we were very excited to know how many stories have they read till now, how much did the kids participate in the skills games and the skills challenges. There were a lot of new things in store for the teachers and in their cool red teacher folder too! Real-life entrepreneur DVD’s, photostories made on children in Bihar, postcards, going to school diaries and our skills book catalogue.

The super teacher folder

Our team of six worked with enthusiasm on and off stage- playing the new board games, reading new stories through story panels and mini books, which the teachers loved! This was a new addition to our program where every child will have a mini book to read the story from and keep it with them.
The teachers loved the new games – The Cash flow game and the Marketing game. Both of them board them with all of fun & cool illustrations. The Cash flow game had sudden mishap and bonus cards while the marketing game had all the good, bad and ugly ways to market once could choose from. They then gave a super pitch to back up their marketing strategy too! The teachers gave us the most valuable feedback so that we can make them better before they reach the schools for the kids to play and learn skills through them.

The Cash flow game : Teachers reading the situation cards they picked

Teachers who had read stories and had children’s projects shared their experiences and details on how they think this program has impacted their students.

Mr. Aman, a teacher from Ursuline convent girl’s school, Lahardaga said, “I have seen the students creatively using their own skills to make the projects.”

Sister Pushpa said, “I have seen the change in my students after they have started reading these stories and doing the projects. Few days ago, we took them out on Women’s Day and they participated and spoke on a public platform willingly with confidence and determination. I never saw my students being so enthusiastic earlier.”

A lot of teachers who came in for the first time shared with us their concerns and their first reactions about the stories and games. We learnt a lot from them, noted every change we need to implement to make it better and impactful. To look forward for the teachers to read as many books they can with the children, until we meet them again in November with more new stories, fun games and exciting skills challenges.

Bob Slattery, representative of the Jesuit province, a new participant said, “I loved the Bijli story (Bijli brings the carnival to her village). It’s a wonderful story and the skill came out really well. Nice illustrations.”

The Power of Stories

Stories create experiences they open the door to the possibility of understanding a new way

When I was very small I used to listen to my grandmother’s stories with wonder. When she spoke, I saw what she meant – so now when I remember her stories, I have to check my memory to see if there was really a picture book, or just her words.  I used to imagine in black and white because all the old movies were mostly black and white.

In India, we’ve always listened to stories, it’s how we pass down what we know, how we share how we see the world, and now with the organization I work with, how we learn.

From the mythological narration of facts of life in Bhagwad Gita by Lord Krishna to Arjun, or my grandmother telling me stories, to the stories our children listen to and watch on TV, on iPads and in cinemas.

But it’s still the story that is ‘told’ that is ‘just words’ floating, with a voice, that allows us to imagine. Sometimes I think we learn much more when we are not given the images, but rather from words, we create our own.

So let’s say you are trying to teach children a new idea or concept, what works best the storytelling format or the story-reading approach?

I did some research. Global research says that storytelling is an abstract form of presenting information which induces creativity of thought while a story with painted, drawn pictures and characters painted provides a concrete understanding of how the characters and their cultures interact.

Story telling is like a magician holding the pulse of the audience with his magic tricks. The storyteller holds the stage and audience by the manipulated twists, turns, expressions and pauses in his stories. All of this combined with hand and body movements capture the attention of the listeners. The audience’s gaze is glued to storyteller yet they are transported to the other world that of story.

Therefore, we realize that telling a story in a specific way is crucial to the understanding of the story. While delivering beautifully designed story books to children to learn entrepreneurial skills, we now want to focus on strengthening of storytelling by teachers. In the workshop for orienting teachers to the program we shall innovate activities through which we facilitate our teachers to become storytellers and our children to learn skills through stories.

So what’s the power of a story?

It’s when everyone comes to school, even those who technically are not enrolled. Surendra Prasad is the headmaster of Nand High School in Sagouli (A semi urban town on the borders of East and West Champaran districts in Bihar). Every Saturday he reads one of our stories. And everyone comes. Every child who is supposed to be in school is there. Even kids who have dropped out come to listen. Women pause to listen while grazing their cattle in the fields and men who are doing new construction in the school come to sit in the classroom.

Surendra Prasad


“I’m sure it has an impact on all of them. They never get any books to read. Many of them cannot actually read. This is a way of getting to know about things which they never knew even existed. The stories are powerful and teach crucial skills for life,” he explained, pausing for a moment.

“On one Saturday, a man who has the contract for construction in our school, sat down to listen to the story I was telling. He listened to the entire story and later came to me. He said to me that the story was amazing and inspiring. We were reading the Bijli brings Carnival to her village that day. As we talked, I suggested to him that if he expands his social network and set up his offices in three different places, then he will be more accessible to people, also he can appoint local people to expand the size of their team. That day a 35 year old became my student”, says Surendra Prasad, and the builder did just that, and came back to thank Surendra for the insight into a skill through story.



Be! Schools

Our schools program – Be! Schools trains government school teachers to use 10-20 entrepreneurial design-driven skills stories to teach children studying in secondary grades (Grade 8th and Grade 9th), one skill is taught each week for a year in 1000+ Government Schools in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

52.8% of children in India drop out by Grade 10, we are working in secondary grades to stem the dropout rate and make education relevant to employment by delivering skills through the school system at scale, skills that can help children get a job or create a job once they complete their education.

Project Associate, Ranchi

 As Project Associate, Ranchi, you would have to spend 60% of your time in Ranchi and 40% in Delhi. The position would require you to create and lead a monitoring and evaluation team and a research team to implement the Be! Schools programme with 200 government and congregation schools across Jhanrkhand and Chattisgarh, meet with government officials, create new stories, communicate with teachers and students, identify and understand their problems, and amend and develop the programme to solve their problems and incorporate their ideas and suggestions.

Key Responsibilities: 

  • Teacher training: You will be responsible for the overall implementation of the teacher training in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. You will be responsible to lead the team of teacher trainers – from where you are positioned, in Delhi/ Ranchi and travel to the training locations to ensure that the trainers understand how to deliver each story and teachers understand the skills activities.
  • You will be working closely with the state teams and they will be reporting to you formally every week about the program related activities- district wise school performance, DEO/DPO meetings, individual schools cases and in turn, we’d like your program status reports, every week about the progress, issues, changes that need to be made to the process.
  • Report Writing: Watch progress through the internal monitoring system and weekly, write/create INSIGHT reports that could be the base of a blog, report to funders and research work. What we know now? Insight, trends, key quotes from kids, teachers, case studies?
  • Testing new books, skills activities with children. Coordinate, meet and follow up with (email, phone calls, visits) with schools, NGOs for testing of Be! books with children in their schools in Delhi and work with the team to do this in states where the program is being implemented. Build relationships with schools for regular testing of the books with children. Submit reports on each testing session, showing what has to be changed in terms of content, text, words, design, length and the activity to make it useable for children.
  • Once the activities come from states, start grading the activities and based on the outcomes, start revising the content of the books and teacher manual, as well as the teacher training sessions. Based on the grading results write interesting stories for the qualitative research reports. This will take minimum 30% of your time.
  • Team management: You will be responsible to work with the team members in Bihar to implement the schools program in 1,000 schools and you will provide direct support to the state team members- Head of programs, project officers and regional program coordinators in Bihar.
  • Project support:  Participate with study team members in development of ongoing project reports and documentation of progress, including analysis of qualitative data, summarization of findings, and development of visuals to communicate findings to stakeholders.
  • Analyze the existing quantitative data to understand the correlation between the survey data and the skill projects submitted by children.

Desired Skills and Experience

  • Knowledge and experience of participating in a large scale project
  • Ability to manage people, communicate with different stakeholders and multi-task at a distance.
  • Ability to coordinate and manage all aspects of the project
  • Highly motivated and a self-starter with a solid level of commitment
  • Excellent organizational and management skills/ability to prioritize
  • Ability to contribute in a team environment and manage a team
  • Computer proficiency and proficiency in M.S. Office (Excel, Power Point and Word)
  • Knowledge of working on statistical software like SPSS and Stata
  • Must be passionate about the development sector and creating social change through entrepreneurship
  • Qualitative and quantitative research skills.
  • At least 2 years of work experience. However, we accept application from college freshers if they can prove to possess the above-mentioned qualities.

If you believe you have the qualifications and experience for and interest in this profile, please send a one page CV along with a one page cover note to Rithika Nair at by 28 February 2014.

Thank you

#goingtoschool; #Be! Schools; #jobs; #project associate; #NGO; #job application


Where Girls Are Not Wanted

This is Komal Kumari

Komal is 12 years old. She is in grade 8 at Government Girls High School, Machuatoli, Patna. Her mother is a housewife and her father is an autorikshaw driver. Komal has been reading Be! Stories avidly because all the stories she has read so far have been about girls. Her project for ‘Getting to the Bottom of It’, which teaches children to notice and understand problems around them, identified what she thought was the most compelling problem in her community – gender discrimination, sexual harassment and female foeticide. This from a 12 year old bespectacled girl.

Komal has never been in the way of harm, but every day she walks to school afraid of her dupatta being pulled from behind or a man stopping her on her way. But she has seen didis (older girls) who have been grabbed, teased, slapped and groped. Once, her older sister asked a boy who had been teasing her if he had no mother or sister at home, and pat came the reply, “Of course I do, but I can’t do this to them, and they are nothing to you so stop worrying about them!”

Komal’s aunt had been told to abort her baby when they found out that she was a girl, however her aunt was strong and went ahead and had her baby girl. However, her aunt’s friend was not that lucky. She had a girl and was forced to give her away her daughter because her family did not want the girl.

Her project showed a pregnant woman on a hospital bed with a nurse and a sonography machine beside her. Another part showed a hospital and child care centre with many people protesting outside holding boards and placards saying GIRLS ARE IMPORTANT and SAVE OUR DAUGHTERS! To change the way people see people girls is her dream.

Komal wants to become a teacher so that she can teach the new generation to be proud of girls, to tell them that boys and girls are equal, to tell them that there is nothing wrong about being born a girl, and that girls can do and become whatever they want.  She feels that society does not want girls, but how will society grow without girls. Women themselves don’t want girls. She does not understand the logic behind their thoughts.

“I want to do something to reform their thoughts, make them understand and love girls. Girls are so much prettier and nicer than boys, right? Girls always take more care of their parents than boys, right? Without girls, there will be no future, right? Then why do people not want girls?” 

She identified a problem, girls were not wanted


Going to School at the Bihar Book Fair 2014

Books! Books! Books! In frosty January, Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) Bihar is running book fairs in 38 districts across Bihar in school grounds. Every school has a small fund to spend on books and the book fairs help teachers and children to choose the books they want to read.

Young entrepreneurs at work

The Going to School team in Bihar thought it would be right to show all of our books from the past 10 years, so Going to School in India, Girl Stars and Be! Books were shown to children in nine districts. We decided to not just show the books but to make it interactive, so children were given chart papers to complete their entrepreneurial skills projects. Some children sat on the mats reading books in the cold for three hours because they liked the stories so much. Every child that completed a project won a hero badge. Exceptional kids and projects took home skills backpacks.Bundled up to keep warm from the cold, Sachin, Asif, Paras, Abhishek, Manoj Kumar,Pandey,Jeetendar,Ranjeet and all our districts coordinators have been having fun ensuring children read stories in Bihar.

A new chapter: Going to School in Jharkhand & Chhattisgarh

An inspiring teacher training exchange with the sisters of the Daughters of St. Anne & the Ursulines

This November, we extended our first steps to the building of a new relationship and programme in a new territory. In partnership with the Daughters of St. Anne (DSA) and the Ursulines we began our Be! Schools programme in the state of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

We arrived wondering if what we had built for Bihar, would be adaptable, workable in a new state and place. We were surprised, it seems the news had arrived before us. It was fantastic to see the teachers coming in almost double the numbers that we expected. Right from Day one, the teachers were one hour early and we were off to a fantastic start. Their enthusiasm did not change or wane over four days. By Day Four they were creating the stories they’d like to teach to their children.

Our team of eleven worked in tandem with the teachers on and off the stage – playing the games, working out difficult skills concepts, making changes to the content for next year. One big change was that the teachers of these two new states would be grading children’s skills projects, so they had a lot of questions about what worked, what didn’t and we learned children would need art supplies to be able to complete the projects.

“When I first heard of the seminar, I thought that it would be like someone teaching us and there would be other teachers who will all be women. I did not expect something so enriching. For everyone to be here. Now I don’t want the workshop to end”, Pawan Kumar, a teacher participant said.

Pawan Kumar, a teacher participant

Teachers loved to play the games of deducing the skills and coming up with a story to describe the skills. We realised that when they each told their their personal story of using a skill, they became heroes, they realised they were, they had those skills. And we smiled.

The Business Plan Game

The new Business in a Box game was a hit. Teachers built business plans to solve problems of rural transportation and health (they chose the hospital card) and we realised there was super data to be collected from playing the game, because in Bihar teacher’s flagged other issues as being more important, such as self-defense for girls.

“We loved your support, the trainers are active, they keep an eye on every participant and run the program very smoothly, I congratulate them for this. The teachers can get to understand the children in their classrooms so much better if we start this program in our schools. The projects and activities in which the children would participate will also bring a lot of personal information from children to the teacher. The teacher-child relationship will strengthen.” Sister Susan, DSA

Sister Susan

Sister Usha ended the workshop by telling us a story of a hero she knew:

“One day, suddenly too many guests turned up for dinner and this young woman did not have enough plates and bowls. She asked her neighbours and they did not have any to lend to her. That made her sad, that she could not serve her guests, but it also got her thinking. In some way, she managed that particular day but started to think for a long term. She realized that she could very easily make lovely bowls from dried leaves which can be used when there are people coming in to visit her home. It was not only her demand. Other people in the village also needed to have extra bowls in the times of festivals and parties. She started making dried leaf bowls for everyone and sold them to the village people. She not only created something innovative but also solved a problem for everyone.”

All teachers loved wearing Badges!

We’ll be back in the new year with more stories now from new states, because everywhere we go, the stories are different, but the joined mission of teaching children skills at school, the same.

Thanking You All

Thank you for your support to participate and play at scale in the Google Global Impact Awards! We had a great time. Celebrating the top four organizations selected by the judges and public vote, we remain honored to be one of 10 finalists and are excited, with the super grant from Google, to begin building digital games to teach children entrepreneurial skills.    


Click here to watch the movie on our  Heroes .   

Gaming for change : 21 skills for 21st century India

Going to School is creating 21 skills games on Android & PC to build entrepreneurial skills for over 320,000 children in 1,000 secondary government schools. In a first of its kind project,  we’ll create an open source portal to equip millions of children with skills they can use to transform their lives and create their own opportunities.

Going to School is thrilled to be selected by Google as a finalist in the Google Impact
Challenge in India. The Google Global Impact Awards support organizations using technology  and innovative approaches to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. The Google Impact Challenge invited Indian non-profits to propose how they would use technology to transform lives, and Going to School’s Gaming for change program promises an innovative way to solve one of the most pressing problems in India’s education system & the larger economy. We’re going to teach the next generation of children skills.

What is it. Going to School in partnership with GIDA is building 21 PC/Android games, in four Indian languages, to teach critical entrepreneurial skills such as supply & demand, problem solving and networking to children in government schools, filling the severe gap of real-world skills in India’s young emerging workforce.

Why. Its a problem of quality & relevance. Our education system is failing to build the skills our young people need to participate in our modern service led economy. As a result, we have more than 42% of children dropping out before Grade 10. On the other hand industries find as many as 90% young people unemployable due to lack of non-technical skills. We want to teach skills to children in secondary skills. If we teach children skills at school we cannot only equip millions of kids with skills they can use for a lifetime, but also encourage them to stay in school and complete their education.

Why Games. Because first, games are fun. Second, interactive games and stories to teach kids employability skills do not currently exist in Indian languages, with Indian stories. Third, we know that games are the only way to create the deep engagement required for a complex process like skill building. We know that if we make learning skills fun, use Indian art & design, use local heroes and work effectively with our school system, we can teach kids the entrepreneurial skills they need to transform their lives. It’s an offbeat idea, but maybe just the right one for this problem.

Be a part of the skills revolution, vote today

Why this is so exciting. Our first prototype game – Mango – a game of supply & demand,
received a tremendous response from our pilot with ~300 children. Teachers loved it too.

Why you should check out the Google Impact Award today
The top four submissions will receive a 3 Rs crore Global Impact Award and Google
mentoring to help make their project a reality. If Going to School gets your vote, we’ll be able to reach millions of kids with the skills games they need to transform their lives.

What you can do. The public voting window is open from 21st October to 30th October, 2013. Cast your vote for our project at and spread the word!

Girls in Bihar love the Mango game

When we’ll know. On 31st October, the top three projects will be selected by a panel of
judges featuring Ram Shriram, Nikesh Arora, Anu Aga, Jayant Sinha & Jacquelline Fuller. The fan favourite from public voting will also be unveiled.

Going to School is a creative non-profit education trust based in New Delhi that believes in the power of stories to transform the way children learn skills.

GIDA strives to create simple and sustainable solutions to social and business problems
through technology

Contact Lisa Heydlauff & Kiran PB