Empowering Changemakers

Access to education in Bodh Gaya 2

Project summary

OneAction wishes to give the children of Bodh Gaya, a city in the Indian State of Bihar, access to the skills, knowledge, and values that enable them to integrate and contribute to a pluralistic society. As a first step, OneAction contributed to the development of the Gyan Niketan school, which offers free education to more than 300 children from the most disadvantaged cast. We now want to complete this project by offering children from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to join a quality English Medium School (EMS) at an affordable price. This new school is also designed to financially support the operation of the first school.

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Education, Empowerment

Project duration

2019 - 2024


Direct: each year, about 350 pupils aged 4 to 14 from low-income families, including 30% from disadvantaged castes
Indirect: each year, the 300 pupils of Gyan Niketan school and more than 150 family members of the EMS's last-year students


Total budget over 4 years: about CHF 470,000
Funds required: about CHF 400,000 (from the 2nd year, the revenues will cover the running costs)


Bihar is one of India's most populated, impoverished and conservative states. The disadvantaged castes compose a majority of the population, whereby nearly 34% of the population lives below the poverty line and nearly half are under 19 years old.

More specifically, this project addresses the following issues: 

A limited access to education

While schooling has become compulsory in India, more than 80 million children from disadvantaged backgrounds do not attend school.In Bihar, more than 15% of children stop receiving education past the 5th year of primary school and the illiteracy rate is the highest among all states (36%), particularly in the Gaya district (45%). In Bodh Gaya, many children from the lowest castes are marginalized and excluded from any formal education.

A deficient public education system

The public school system in Bihar is inadequate because of the high teacher absenteeism and teacher-to-student ratios, but also because of the insufficient number of schools. Thus private schools progressively supplant it and often offer an education of much better quality. However, their tuition fees are high, accounting for nearly a quarter of the middle-class families' income, who run the risk of falling into debt heavily.

A high unemployment rate among the youth

27% of Bihar's population is between ages 15 and 30, 17.5% of whom are unemployed. This deeply affects the local society and generates other issues such as violence, extremism, alcoholism and the segregation of disadvantaged castes. Indeed, Bihar is one of the states with the highest rate of community-based violence.

The importance of mastering English

English is the second official language of the country. In a context of strong economic development, it also represents an essential skill in many professional sectors. The quality of English teaching in public schools is low, and English remains the privilege of the better-off. Acting as a social ladder, it is an important tool for lower cast members to move out of precariousness and integrate into society. 

Our partner

Since 2012, OneAction has collaborated with the Indian NGO A Future of Children in Bodhgaya Society. Brajesh Kumar, its director, has a degree in education sciences. Being very involved in the local society, he has been involved in strengthening the education system in Bodh Gaya and its surroundings for over 10 years. Brajesh founded the NGO in 2004 when he established the Gyan Niketan school which provides free education annually to about 300 Dalit students (formerly known as "untouchable") who previously had no access to education. Brajesh Kumar will also be responsible for setting up the new English medium school.


The project

Quality education with future perspectives

The school will host up to 350 children aged 3 to 14who will benefit from a curriculum taught in English (based on the Indian federal system) and of high quality ensured by a limited number of students per class (considerably lower than in the public system) and by a selection of local teachers chosen according to their university degree, their level of English and their experience. In addition, we will commit to expanding student perspectives by diversifying their activities and enhancing their learning: we will send competent English-speaking volunteersfor long-term stays; we will provide personal development workshopsto share with students the value of respect, compassion, civic responsibility and teamwork; and we will lead well-being activities such as yoga and meditation. The parents will be invited to participate in their children's education through a Parent Commitee, and in their final year, the students will receive personalized advicefor the continuation of their secondary schooling or professional training and will be supported in the necessary procedures. The school will give them access to quality secondary education - or even to higher education - and tools that will expand their career opportunities in a region where the demand for English-speaking staff is growing. Empowering the students and improving their living conditions will also benefit their families, who will see their economic and social status progress.

A school affordable for disadvantaged children

Tuition fees will be much lower than at other private English medium schools in the region. We aim to include children from low-income backgrounds whose parents have the means and the will to engage in the education of their children by offering them a better education than that of the public system. We will particularly target children from scheduled castes (i.e. the lowest castes, including Dalits), who will represent about 30% of our students. When promoting the school, we will also pay particular attention to communicating to girls, of whom we guarantee a wide representation. Their achievements will contribute to improving the social status of women in the region.

Expected results

  • The English medium school has opened its doors in March 2021 to classes of kindergarten and primary 1 to 5;
  • By Spring 2022, the construction of the second floor is completed, allowing children of primary grades 6 to 8 to join the school;
  • By the third year of operations, the school has 350 students;
  • By the third year of operations, 11 grades are open: 3 years of kindergarten and 8 years of primary;
  • More than 90% of graduates can enroll in a quality secondary school;
  • Young people from the lowest castes have the tools that allow them to escape from precariousness, to integrate into society and thus to improve their living conditions;
  • All operational costs of the EMS are covered;
  • In the long term, the school's income covers the running costs of the free Gyan Niketan school.


  • We expect the English medium school to be fully self-sufficient in its third year of operations
  • By the end of its third year of operations, we expect to generate enough revenues to also cover the costs of the One Meal A Day programme, which fights against child malnutrition by providing a balanced daily meal to each pupil of Gyan Niketan school.
  • From the third year of operations, OneAction will gradually disengage from the management of the EMS and will focus on the development of new social projects, such as the establishment of a scholarship for the girls of Gyan Niketan school. We aim to gradually generate enough income to cover all the operating costs of Gyan Niketan school.

Some facts and figures about the project

  • Approximately 350 children will receive primary education annually in the EMS from 2021;
  • More than 450 children and family members are indirect beneficiaries of the EMS each year;
  • More than 90% of the graduates will be able to join a quality secondary school;
  • 100% of the operational costs of the EMS will be covered from the second year of operations;
  • At least 40% of the pupils are girls and 30% come from the scheduled castes.