Project #1594

Design-Driven Stories Teach Kids Skills

by Going to School Fund

People must understand that girls should be allowed to play just like boys. Games have to be part of school, Im going to make sure games become part of our timetable again. Neeru, age 15

Bettiah, West Champaran, 3.22 pm

Neeru and her friends can’t wait for the last bell to ring. Their legs are stiff from sitting in the same position for over two hours. Neeru has been looking at the last postcard her brother sent her. It’s a photograph of him playing football with his friends at his boarding school. She looks at field outside her classroom. Their school had a beautiful field within its compound but grass and weeds had grown making it impossible to play. The shed in which all the games equipment was stored was home to cobwebs and creepy-crawlies. The footballs were punctured and the cricket bats chipped and broken.

The field had once held two football nets and a cricket pitch but ever since the games teacher left there was no one to teach games. Since they were in a girls’school, they could only have a female games teacher. There were no applicationsfrom women games teachers.

Neeru thought that no one realized how important games was. Playing was as important as studying, it made you strong. Neeru felt free when she used to run, like she was flying.

The last bell of the day rang cutting into Neeru’s thoughts. She passed the boys playing their usual game of cricket on the streets. For as long as she could remember they’d always played cricket just there. But today, she stopped and watched. None of them wore shoes. They had no equipment. Their cricket bat was a broad stick, their ball was a chewed tennis ball and their wicket was a three legged chair. If the ball hit a tree stump you were awarded four runs, if it broke a window, you got six runs. They did not have an umpire or a coach. They created, broke and judged their own rules. They were very happy.

Neeru realized she had spent six months being sad about a problem instead of solving it.

First, she would speak to the gardener and ask him to mow the school lawns. She did not know who the gardener was, she had to find him. Then she would speak to her friends and together they would take an appointment with the principal and request her to allow them to play after school hours. Once they start playing after school hours, she was hoping that the principal would begin to notice how good they were and then the next step would be to speak to her about including games in their curriculum next year. Yes, she would make something out of nothing, just like the boys playing cricket.

Neeru turned back to see the ball sailing through the air and crashing into someone’s window shortly followed by jubilant cries from the winning team. Maybe she would become games teacher one day. There were doctors in the town, but no games teacher and that was who her school needed most right now, and who girls would need later to be able to play.

When asked what would you like to learn at school that you don’t yet, 59% of girls said overwhelmingly: NCC games. Games win. The World Economic Forum cites a healthy diet + exercise as one of the 10 skills you should leave high school with be work-ready, knowing how to be healthy, exercise and eat properly is imperative to have enough energy to work.

When we asked girls how they spent their time after school, 78% said studying [though we know realistically with transport and family demands they don’t have this much time], 15% said household work [while only 9% of boys said they help at home] and playing, sports, only received 5% for girls, and 9% for boys.

Giving girls space and time to play at school is imperative - when you exercise your body you open your mind, and in organized sports you learn other skills - team work, leadership, communication and negotiation - imperative life skills. Longer term, if there is NCC games in your school and you complete the tasks to receive a certificate, you get extra marks when you are applying to be a police officer, in the railways, army or police force.

Neeru is inquisitive, a problem-solver and is taking initiative to bring games to her school for girls. Neeru identified that her social connections can help her achieve her goal. 97% of girls in our program are curious about new things that can happen in and around them and once they are curious, the next step is finding out how to make that ‘new idea’a reality in your school.


“I am determined to the make the world safe for women and girls, that’s what drives me - we can’t live in a world that’s not safe for girls, we just can’t.” Alisha, age 15

Patna, 8:07 a.m.

Alishas father pulls on his uniform looking for his rickshaw keys. His ismomentarily stalled by a pair of soft palms clasping his worn hands to request, insist,Hurry, well be late Papa, I have to interview an entrepreneur to make a newspaper at school.

Mr. Khan smiles. Alisha is excited to go to school on Saturday. Hes given up his morning auto-run to take her to meet Ochu, a sweetshop owner. Alisha wants to interview him, and he didnt want to her to go alone. Hell lose RS 1,500 today by not working. That worries him. It will cut into his savings. Hes been saving for two yearssince the day Alisha turned 13. There will be a wedding reception. He will apply for a personal loan this afternoon, after dropping Alisha to school. Hell mortgage his rickshaw, hundreds of people will have a feast, Alisha a new sari, her groom, surrounded by laughing friends and family, and he, a proud father watching.

Alishawill have to stop school of course. He cant afford to send her next year. Higher secondary school is intermediate college - the fees are higher, the prices of books increasing - her uniform is too small, her shoes too - she wants to pay for extra classes to be able to study for the civil services exam. Mr. Khan frowns thinkingabout her plans. Shes always wanted to become a police officer. Mr. Khan and his wife were shocked when she told them this: a young woman policeofficer, who had ever seen that? Theres no way he would allow Alisha to wear those clothes and risk her life like that. But Alishas was determined she told him that she wanted to show the world that girls could become anything they wanted, especially a police officer who would ensure that other girls like her were safe. Mr. Khan loved his daughter, but what could he do. She had turned 15 last year, and people had already begun to talk at her fathers inability to find her a suitable groom.

I am ready and you are not,she breaks into his thoughts, hurrying down the stairs he climbs into his rickshaw. Alisha sits in the back, wearing her her school uniform, bag on her lap, a press card with her name pinned to her dupatta, and a smile. Her in-laws probably wont let her go back to school. He drives to Ochus sweet shop.

Alisha is tapping her foot, the only sign of her ebbing patience. She and her father had been waiting for over an hour at their table at Sadhu Hotel. Ochu, the sweet shop owner was giving them odd shoulder raising motions. The girl had initially annoyed him with her questions, driving away customers, but now he was curious - why was she here? She had said that he was a good entrepreneur to interview and that she wanted to interview him for her newspaper. He wondered who an entrepreneur was and why he was a good one as he weighed out half a kilo of his famous kala jamun to the customer before him.

It was afternoonby the time Ochu had made a receipt for his last customer, swatted the flies away from his halwa and jalebis, wiped his counter clean and made his way to the waiting girl and her father.

An entrepreneur is a problem solverAlisha explains, You are the best of all entrepreneurs because you are solving a problem with a business. Ochus face asks, what problem am I solving? You provide food at very reasonable prices to hungry people dont you? Alisha answers at speed. Students like me come to you, the rickshaw puller comes to you, my father comes to you when we have guests at home, and Ive even seen the headmaster stop by for your samosa after school. So, you see youre solving one problem already. Of hunger. Then, you pay Dinesh-bhai to sweep the floors and clean the utensils, you pay Ila-didi to help you make the samosas in the morning and you pay Geeta and Zulfi to hand out plates of food to your customers. Youve built a team and youre employing three women! You started a business that solves problems that makes you an entrepreneur- a problem solving hero.

As he watched Alisha skip away, her arm locked in her fathers, Ochus face was glowing.She called him a hero.

Mr. Khan had sat quietly and watched his daughter all morning. His earlier worries about not making enough money today or reaching the bank on time disappeared. He had watchedAlishas intelligent questions, the kindness with she explained her project to the irritated shop owner, and finally how her words and actions had changed Ochu from a grumpy man to melting sweetie.He started to see her in a khaki uniform, doing her best to make her country a safer and better place, rather than silent in a marriage hall.

Alisha chatted at speed as she clung on to his arm and they walked her to school. As they approached the school gate, she stopped and looked up to him, Papa you now how I knew who was an entrepreneur? I thought of everything you do and told him.

Ten minutes later Mr. Khan walked into the bank. The loan officer was just about to clear his desk.  Mr. Khan placed all his documents on the table, and then said, I need to mortgage my rickshaw for my daughters education loan.

The Mystery of the Brown Envelope
The Mystery of the Brown Envelope

School has just opened in India and we're delighted to share that skills for kids stories are now about to be read in 1,159 secondary government schools in Bihar. It was hot back to back journey of training teachers in 12 districts: 2,825 teachers and head teachers came for three days to read stories, learn skills and play games. We have a new graphic novel story in play this year: One world, many leaves. It's a story of Archana, a real entrepreneur from Karnataka whose leaf plate enterprise has created 85 jobs for women. The challenge for kids and teachers was to make a plate out of leaves they found where they live. The leaf plates were gorgeous (and eco-friendly super to replace plastic). We also released a new story: The riddle of the brown envelope. Exploring the concept of identifying problems as opportunities, over 120,000 children have each been given two maps, one of a village and another of a slum and the challenge it to 'connect the dots' and name as many social enterprises as you possibly can.

With your support this year we printed over 1.2 million books, a set of 15 stories for every child.

For the first time in India, 120,000 girls and boys are learning entrepreneurial skills at school.

The revolution begins with a story.

Thank you for your support. 

Spot the opportunity
Spot the opportunity
Opportunities are everywhere
Opportunities are everywhere


Make an impact with a story.


Asha (name changed) a student of Grade 9 has been reading stories and learning skills at school. She has read 11 books in the Going to School class and her favourite story out of them is ‘Getting to the bottom of it’. She drew a map of her locality and identified the problems around her.


“I identified the problems in my locality through my project. I saw them around me, in the news and my elders talking about them. The gravest issues are of child marriage, female foeticide and naxal attacks. There are the everyday problems of water and electricity too in my village.”

Connecting every element that was a problem, the cause of it and how it could be solved, her project had a strong message how stories read in classrooms had so much impact on children’s minds.


Asha is reading stories every Saturday in the Going to School class and has learnt entrepreneurial skills. Her teacher, Sujit Kumar Singh says, “I am very proud of the work Going to School has been doing. The skills if incorporated properly can make the top notch of entrepreneurs from amongst these children.”


Asha Kumari goes to her school Lalpari Devi Girls High School on her pink cycle pink bicycle in and out on the bumpy lanes for four kilometers everyday. Her father works in Kolkata and her mother stays with him due to her poor health. While her parents her away, her elder sister is her guardian who is married and lives with her kids.

A proud sister, Sandhya Kumari says, “Asha has always been dedicated to her studies and also does a lot of art and crafts. We want her to excel in the field she is good at.”

She knows the objective behind the Going to School program and has helped her younger sister with identifying problems around her.

 Sandhya doesn’t mind her sister going for extra classes to learn skills at school and is glad she is learning so much. 

“I want her to grow up to become whatever she wishes to and I will always support my little sister in every step.”

Asha, a happy-go-lucky 14 year old says she loves her village and her home means more fun when her sister and nephews are around. However, she says, “I have the skill to identify problems and taking a risk now. I know the seriousness of the problems in my village. The schools are really far and the smaller schools do not give good education.”


Her elder sister adds, “Lack of public transportation and poor medical centers is another problem. Asha’s project made me realize these things. She is taking the right step. To solve a problem, first we need to identify its root causes.”

She believes her sister and the generation to come can make a huge impact in the development of her village if they study hard and have a comfortable living.

Asha is reading stories and learning skills to make her village develop and make it a better place to live comfortably. She has taken the first step of identifying the problems and her skills will help her solve them ahead. Meanwhile, one story at a time, Kiran is learning great entrepreneurial skills which are already developing a hero entrepreneur in her. 

It's been a marvellous year and we wanted to thank you for your incredible support.

For the past year, Be! Schools has been working in 871 secondary government schools in Bihar. Every week, 87,100 children have read stories to learn skills, they have played skills games in the classroom and gone adventuring into their communities to create skills action projects. Children have created children's newspapers about entrepreneurs, and we collected them, and read each one. We noticed for the first time this year that a number of women entrepreneurs featured in children's news. This is a very good change. Usually girls and boys can only find men entrepreneurs because those are the only people working or taking a risk. But there's been a change, this year girls found women who work, and they told us they were heroes. Girls found a woman entrepreneur who makes wedding band toys out of clay with gold paint and sparkles, another little girl discovered her grandmother used to melt orange sweets and then make orange ice-cream, she even sold it from her bicycle.

So the good news at the end of 2013 is that entrepreneurs are everywhere, and there's been a change for the better in Bihar, slowly but surely, more women entrepreneurs are appearing everywhere we look.

Please do watch the movie to see girls on the move learning skills in India.

With our best wishes for the holidays!

Going to School. 



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Organization Information

Going to School Fund

Location: New Delhi - India
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lisa Heydlauff
New Delhi, India
$15,265 raised of $75,000 goal
341 donations
$59,735 to go
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