Project #1594

Design-Driven Stories Teach Kids Skills

by Going to School Fund

Nishu Anand from P.N Anglo High School, Patna. A family tree project stood out from the pile of hundreds of skills projects. We looked at the beautiful shades of orange, yellow and brown make the most unusual but beautiful tree impression on a large piece of cheap white paper. As we started monitoring the first activity skills projects handed in by the children, we saw a parchment similarly made just as beautiful. We realized it was the same boy whose unique sense of design and skill stood out in all his work and was easily identifiable. In fact we realized that he possibly used the same three colours because he didn’t possess any others. The confident, powerful strokes with the great combinations and aesthetic use of the colours surprised us, as his skill and ability paralleled professional designer work we had seen before. We wondered if he himself knew how talented he was... we visited his school to give him an award and are talking to the local newspaper to print photos of him and his artwork. 


Md Shahid Raza, Miller High School, Patna

As we sat monitoring the fourth activity for Jaane Kyun?, we realized that this activity was particularly multilayered, having many different elements to evaluate as it’s a group activity. The more activities we saw, small parts were sometimes being left out or some concepts seemed unclear, even though the effort and attempt was apparent. We finally came across one activity which was complete in every way and beautiful and creative as well. Each aspect of it was included the way it was supposed to be. Concepts were surprisingly clear and very well presented, and each step of the activity, including little pointers and notes given in the instructions had been clearly and creatively presented. As we looked for the names of the group of students who had made this project, we saw only one name and realized that it was only one child that had done the entire project: Md Shahid Raza. We were very surprised he had completed the project by himself, it could not have been an easy task. It would take an exceptional child, to be able to do this. We sent him a personal postcard and went to visit his school to congratulate him and his teacher. 


One afternoon, our Master Trainer Sarwat received a phone call and had an extended, hearty and enthusiastic conversation with the school teacher, Mrs. Sangeeta Sinha, P.N Anglo High School, Patna. She had apparently just called to tell Sarwat that she, while going though the Teacher Manual to prepare for the second activity Entrepreneurs are Everywhere, realized that this activity was very different from what her students were used to, so she had come up with her own solution. She took two days before that Saturday to do the whole activity at home, so by Saturday she had a sample project ready. After the story was read in all the classes, everyone was explained what to do next for their activity and she walked around to all the sections showing them the sample project she had made so that they were clear about what to do. It would have been one of their first group activities, in which they had to go out into their neighbourhoods and interview a local entrepreneur and then write a newspaper article about him/her. She happily told Sarwat that the students had already submitted their newspapers and had made them beautifully as well as correctly, and she was ready to submit them to us. She had called Sarwat to reassure her that the students were able to do even the second activity and there was nothing to worry about. And inspired teacher can make a huge difference.


Pooja Kumari from Gandhi Arya Kanya Uchha Vidyalaya, Mansoor Ganj, Patna.


As our team sat in our office buried under projects, charts and papers, Abha passed me a small and flimsy booklet to evaluate. Still trying to find a universal way to evaluate the ‘presentations’ of these projects as it was still the first activity, The Little Box of Big Skills, I picked up the booklet and began reading the neatly written paragraph stories and realized exactly how subjective this process can be. As I flipped the pages I realized that the paper had uneven edges, and the project was actually pieces of scrap paper torn neatly and stapled together. I read through the stories and they were beautiful and original, explaining the skills in very unique but accurate ways. At the back of each story were drawings in pencil also representing what happens in the stories. It was a complete and creative skills project which when we began to evaluate and give marks, we gave Pooja 11/12, one of the highest marks we had ever given. Pooja is brilliant.




Teachers in Bihar playing skills games
Teachers in Bihar playing skills games

Be! Schools launches in 70 schools in Bihar with stories that teach skills to 30,000 children

School is back in session and Be! Schools has launched in Bihar to teach children in Grade 9 entrepreneurial skills! We are starting with 70 schools in Patna, and expanding to 1,000 schools in the state this year. Leading up to the launch, the Going to School team trained eight Master Trainers to conduct teacher training sessions. In late July, we conducted a 5-day training with 170 government school teachers to help them teach Be! Books and conduct entrepreneurial skills projects in their classrooms.  Eventually we will train 2,000 teachers across Bihar. 

Teachers told us over and over that they’d never been to a training like this, and they were excited to teach these books and skills to their classes. 

Kamini Singh, teacher at BMP Higher Secondary School in Patna, told us “So far we had not been trained to teach children in ways that would interest them. Even the most absent minded children love stories and enjoy games. That’s why children will never find these books and activities tiresome.”

“I like the new approach of group discussion and questioning method where different opinions can be expressed.” Sanjay Kumar Chaudhary from Patna High School, Gardanibagh said. 

“Like children, adults also love colours. The stories attracted everyone and I found the colours exciting.” Sangeeta Sinha, P N Anglo Sanskrit Senior Secondary School, Naya Tola, Patna

After the training, several teachers called our offices to urge us to send books quickly. Our Master Trainers personally delivered books to 70 schools—with a total enrollment of over 30,000 students in Grade 9. Some schools have over 1200 students in Grade 9! Traveling through monsoon rains, the Master Trainers were welcomed by principals and teachers with steaming cups of ginger tea.

Master Trainers will continue visiting each school in the upcoming week to further guide teachers and collect completed skills projects that allow children to practice skills in their real lives. 

Playing skills games is fun!
Playing skills games is fun!
Our team delivering books to schools
Our team delivering books to schools
Girls make skills projects after reading Be! Books
Girls make skills projects after reading Be! Books


We are delighted to be able to release 50 beautiful books that teach entrepreneurlal skills to the poorest children into 1,000 Government Schools in Bihar (India's poorest state) reaching 300,000 children, that's 150,000 girls in Grade 9.

Design innovation at work: for the first time epic graphic novels will teach children skills in India through the school system.

Each week children will read one story for two hours and then complete a skills activity in their community. From mapping your social network to the Chief Minister to figuring out who in your Family Tree is an entrepreneur, the activites are fun and relevant to children's lives. Once a week we collect these activities from children and scan them into a central database. 

From June 15, 2012 onwards we'll be able to tell you week on week how many girls completed activities, what businesses they wish to start and which skills they think they need the most.

These schools are not online nor do many of them have electricity, so in 2012, it's still only a book that reaches the poorest children in India.

We look forward to sharing our emerging stories with you.


Bijali Brings a Carnival to her Village
Bijali Brings a Carnival to her Village

Be! an Entrepreneur is a multimedia skills education initiative to teach children in India, who live in poverty, entrepreneurial skills so they can use their education to transform their lives. 7 epic movies, 50 books (each teaches an entrepreneurial skill) and a 15 part radio series inspire millions of young people from low-income groups in India to choose to become entrepreneurs and to pioneer enterprises that solve the social, economic and environmental problems they face in their lives. Be! makes ‘going to school’ relevant to employment – encouraging India’s poorest children to stay in school to learn skills that will help them get a job, or ‘create a job’ by choosing to become entrepreneurs. 


Going to School is honored to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Education, Government of Bihar for pioneering this project in 1,000 secondary schools in the state –reaching 300,000 children in grade 9.


Objectives of the Programme 

-       To teach entrepreneurial/employability skills to 300,000 children in grade 9 in 1,000 secondary schools through 50 Be! skills books. Be! skills books make education relevant to employment, with the aim of reducing the dropout rate, so when children leave school after completing the Be! skills program, they have learned 50 skills, from making a plan and a budget, to negotiation, communication and problem-solving. Young people are then aware of the skills they have learned and can be better prepared to get a job or choose to ‘create a job’ i.e. become an entrepreneur

-       To create a supportive environment, state-wide, for young people to choose to become entrepreneurs, to use mass media, movies and radio shows to change attitude of parents and decision makers in young people’s lives towards entrepreneurship; to view it as a viable career choice for young people and to support young people in that choice.


The Problems Be! Addresses

School education is currently not relevant to getting a job or creating a job.

Employability skills are not yet taught at scale to young people age 10-16 in school.

Young people drop out of school, unskilled.

While the economy is growing, it cannot create enough jobs for everyone – statistics point to 210 million young people under the age of 30 by the year 2020 that will be in search of jobs.

At the same time India faces pressing problems of water, waste, energy, housing and sanitation, further exacerbated by a growing population.

One solution to unemployment and solving local problems is mass entrepreneurship.

Young people need to be taught employability skills in school to be able to get a job or create a job once they have completed their education.

Further, young people currently to do not have access to the information they need to become self-employed. Young people need access to skills training information and finance, in their own languages and relevant to their local areas.


Roll Out & Monitoring

GTS will set up an office in Patna, the state capital.

Training of 2,000 teachers from 1,000 secondary schools by GTS team.

Print run of 50 Be! books, each teaching an entrepreneurial skill

Teachers will leave the training with sets of Be! books

300,000 children in grade 9 in 1,000 schools will read one book each week and complete a related skill activity each week.

GTS team will collect the completed activities each week and scan and upload them into an IT monitoring system. The activities will help us monitor the training in schools as well as understand children’s comprehension of each skill.

Be! movies and radio shows on local channels will spread awareness on the presence of Be! books in schools and create a supportive environment for children to choose to become entrepreneurs when they grow up.

Mt Family Tree
Mt Family Tree
Seher's Bolt of Lightning Business



Be! an Entrepreneur is a multimedia skills education initiative to teach children in India, who live in poverty, entrepreneurial skills so they can use their education to transform their lives. 10 epic movies, 50 books (each teaches an entrepreneurial skill) and a 15 part radio series to inspire millions of young people from low income groups in India to choose to become entrepreneurs and to pioneer enterprises that solve the social, economic and environmental problems they face in their lives. Be! makes ‘going to school’ relevant to employment – encouraging India’s poorest children to stay in school to learn skills that will help them get a job, or ‘create a job’ by choosing to become entrepreneurs.

Going to School (GTS) would very much like to work in Bihar, running the project and managing it for 15 months, after which GTS would work to ensure the sustainability of the project, by training key Government counterparts to run the project as part of the system.

The plan is to roll-out Be! books in 1,000 secondary schools in Bihar.

-       Training of 2,000 teachers (two from each school) for three months.

-       Teachers will leave the training with sets of 50 Be! Books.

-       For one year, two hours every week teachers will read one Be! book i.e. teach one entrepreneurial skill per week.

-       Children will read one book once a week. Each Be! book has an in-built activity that children complete, once a week,

-       The activities will be submitted to GTS and will allow us to constantly monitor the program, qualitatively and quantitatively.


In November, 2011 GTS team travelled to Bihar and visited Government schools to explore how 50 Be! Skills books would be implemented in 1,000 Secondary Schools in Bihar, from teacher training to monitoring, with the aim of beginning teacher training in early 2012.


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Organization Information

Going to School Fund

Location: New Delhi - India
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lisa Heydlauff
New Delhi, India
$14,945 raised of $75,000 goal
336 donations
$60,055 to go
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