As the country grows rapidly, new initiatives are working against a host of obstacles in the hope of keeping young women in school.

Students are seen studying through the window of a building.
Students study for classes at a government school on the edge of the Thar Desert. Kim Palmer / The Hechinger Report


JAISALMER, INDIA—Once a year, the history lecturer Vijay Kumar Ballani and his colleagues go door-to-door in this rural village, imploring parents to send their children to a cinderblock complex that lacks classroom space, bathrooms, and desks.  He gives the same stock speech.

“Education is free, lunch is free, books are free, sanitary napkins are free,’’ Ballani tells parents, urging them to visit this government-run school on the edge of the Thar Desert, where, on a warm day late last spring, 12 teachers were overseeing the education of 260 students from first grade through high school. “Your kids will have a better life if they are educated. No one will cheat you.”

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The Groups Fighting for Girls’ Education in India

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