“niiti”, a Sanskrit word means, in different contexts, policy, ethics, tenets. To us, who belong here, it is our raison d’etre, our touchstone. So we constantly turn to our ethics and tenets when we re-examine the basis of what we do and how we do it over and over again. This is our space to engage with our core, with you, our readers and companions on the path towards an equitable society in the deepest meaning of the word. Over the past years, there are several social issues and organisations that we have engaged with and been enriched with both experience and knowledge along the way. We believe that in creating a conversation platform for those engaged in the field, including some of our clients, partners, all of you out there who have reached this site wanting to be the change and others who have expertise to comment and critique, we can actually crowd-source actions and solutions for some of our most pressing social issues.

Some of these stories feature organisations and people who have been the change; others highlight innovative approaches to long-entrenched social issues; yet others point to ways in which change can be facilitated, simply. If you are inspired by them as well and motivated to replicate their work, or want to share inputs on other bright examples like these, do write to us at

This is your platform. Feel free to contribute, critique, and most importantly, converse.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hippocampus Learning Centres: Shaping young minds in rural India.

In India, a large network of primary schools run by the government addresses the education needs of poor children in the 6-14 years age group. These schools have not been successful in delivering learning outcomes. Data from recent studies like ASER and others indicate that children by 4th grade do not meet the requirements of their class, with the gap widening alarmingly as they move into higher grades.

The problem begins at the early learning level.  According to a recent study by the World Bank, by the time poorer children in many countries reach school age, they are at a significant disadvantage in cognitive and social ability.  In India, a country with   200 million children in primary school, 50% of these children struggle with learning. This can be partly attributed to a lack of pre-school options for low-income people living in rural India which in return results in these children struggling at the primary school level and further leads to drop-outs and a low pass percentage at   the high school level.

A multitude of attempts (both through well-funded government programs and through high-impact NGO offerings) continue to be made to improve the situation. These range from teacher training to curriculum redesign but there is much to do still to create the desired impact.

Hippocampus Learning Centres (HLC) set up in 2010 attempts to address the learning crisis for rural children as well as provide livelihoods for local women.  Our Centres provide pre-school education services to the rural children at an affordable cost as well as provide training and employment opportunities to local women thus addressing two large societal needs- early learning and employment for women- through a financially sustainable and scalable model. HLC Centres are located in the heart of the villages making it easily accessible to all children.

As of June 2013, HLC has opened Kindergarten Centres in 104 villages in the two districts of Mandya and Davangere with plans to expand to more Districts in the coming years. We have trained and employed over 164 women from rural areas to teach at these centres, and have over 3000 students enrolled. The Kindergarten program is a full-day program targeted towards 3-6 year olds, has 3 levels of Pre-Kg, Lower KG and Upper KG. Besides early learning services, HLC also provides remedial programs in Math and English at the primary level.

We have seen demonstrable improvements in learning for the children, and are continuously updating our curriculum to maximize learning for our students.Our curriculum has been developed by individuals who specialize in the field of primary and pre-school education in India. Additionally, while preparing the curriculum we have taken into account factors such as our students' and teachers' backgrounds, focusing on aspects like language challenges, and seek to pro-actively address these factors. We also take into account the foundation necessary for our students to do well once they begin primary school. Our teachers who have been with us over the last 3 years are now stars in their communities and a strong role model to young girls.

HLC's goal goes beyond providing critical early education. It is also to make learning an enjoyable activity and build curiosity in young children to question and dream so that they will continue that approach to learning throughout their lives. 

To know more visit  or email

Lily Paul is currently the Director for Organizational Development at Hippocampus Learning Centres. Prior to that she was the Director of the Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur program for Ashoka Innovators for the Public in India - creating a unique network of business people to support Ashoka's work with social entrepreneurs


  1. THANK YOU for all the work you do!!

  2. One of the most important benefits of coming to a Pre-School is the social interaction and learning to be self-sufficient.
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  3. A very nice post we all should have Go through NGO's. You can also donate and join NGo like Education field which hepls to give Education to Rural Childrens who not able to study as much as they want to and as per thier need. Barusahib is a Organization that help people in many ways.

  4. Great Job,Kudos to you and for the works you do.
    Keep up the momentum.
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