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. Upon independence, India’s literacy rate was a staggering 11%. Since then, it has made a tremendous development in educating its people. According to a 2011 census, the literacy rate has grown to 74.04%; however, this figure is still well 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 villagers live in remote areas far from major cities and are often unreachable by road and untouched by electricity, causing them to be neglected by agencies of development. Therefore, Ekal Vidyalaya focuses its primary education programs in these underprivileged communities of India.
The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation is a charitable trust that initiates, supports, and runs one-teacher schools (known as Ekal Vidyalayas) all over India. With the participation of numerous non-profit trusts and organizations, this program has become the largest grassroots, non-governmental education movement that operates in the remote villages of India. The Ekal movement aims to help eradicate illiteracy from rural and tribal India by 2015, employing a holistic approach to social and economic development. To date, Ekal Vidyalaya is a movement of over 51,943 teachers, 6,000 voluntary workers, 35 field organization (throughout 22 Indian states), and 8 support agencies. It operates in over 53,000 schools and educates more than 1.5 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 four aspects: functional literacy, health care education, development education, and empowerment education. Ekal Vidyalaya’s goal is to nearly double the current number of schools to 100,000 by the end of 2015, providing education to over 3 million children. The dedication of the donors, supporters, and workers of Ekal Vidyalaya is the key to this organization’s success.