Navjivan (Boys Hostel)

The Dalits of India are victims of centuries-long, socially-sanctioned prejudice. Often called the untouchables or outcasts, the Dalits, number around 250 million and are those designated by the Hindu caste system as low or backward caste.


The Dalits are discriminated against by the powerful minority upper castes. As a result of this discrimination, Dalits suffer socially and economically. Uneducated and carrying the stigma of untouchability, Dalits are forced to take low-paid jobs which provide inadequate income. Many cannot afford food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or even an education for their children. Despite India's recent economic success the majority of Dalits live on less than one dollar per day. Many have no access to clean water and their women and children are regularly subjected to all forms of abuse. The reality is that India's Dalits are shackled to a social and religious system that effectively removes personal freedom and opportunity.


After centuries of this caste-based oppression, India's Dalits recently took drastic strides toward social and political freedom. At a historic meeting representatives from the Christian community were asked by Dalit leaders to help them in their struggle for freedom. When asked what form this help should take, Dalit leaders requested one thing?that their children be given an English-based education which included a worldview based on human worth, freedom and dignity.

Dalit leaders had concluded that the best way to change lives, achieve measurable results in their community, and escape their plight of oppression was through education. They wanted education that serves the whole person and includes community development.


In response to the invitation given by the Dalit community, OMIF collaborated to start the construction and development of Dalit Education Centres throughout India. Today 102 of these DECs are in operation. Each school has qualified teachers who are able to instruct the children in English and their local language.


Children are supplied with uniforms, meals and books. At present over 24,000 Dalit children attend the schools and are receiving a high quality English medium education.


Schools usually start with two kindergarten classes who initially share a classroom, LKG (3-4yrs) and UKG (4-5 yrs), and one 1st standard class (5-6 yrs). Each year these classes advance and up to 50 new children join at Kindergarten level. In this way the school gradually expands. At full capacity, each Centre will provide primary education for 300-500 children.


Children receive education regardless of caste, creed or faith. The Dalit children receive preference for enrolment because the distribution of children in each school reflects the heavily Dalit-dominated communities in which these Centres exist.

The DEC programme stands out from other school projects because of its unique relationship with local and national Dalit leaders. Each school is placed in a location suggested by Dalit leaders to ensure the full cooperation of the community at the local level. The local Dalit community helps OMIF acquire land for permanent school buildings. This personal involvement by the local people is the only way in which this programme produces a lasting impact creating real life change.


The centres also run vocational training and economic empowerment programmes which are designed to help the Dalit Community gradually develop to do more to sustain the school. Women's Self Help Groups are able to access loans from local banks. This enables small groups of Dalit Women run their own Micro Finance schemes to set up small businesses and income generating projects.


The Education Sponsorship programme has been set up with our partner in India to cover running costs of these Dalit Education Centres. Children's parents also pay a token amount towards the school fees as they are able.


As an individual you can sponsor one or more children though our partner Free a Dalit Child who run the scheme on behalf of several aid charities. Money is passed on exclusively for the benefit of the Dalit Education Centre where your child is being educated. Free A Dalit Child is a new name for a sponsorship programme that has run since 2006. Free A Dalit Child will handle all of the administration, correspondence and financial details including gift aid reclaim etc. of your sponsorship. They will also answer your questions about the process and what is covered by the sponsorship money.


Sponsorship costs £15 per child per month. This £15 covers expenses such as uniforms, shoes, textbooks, notebooks, Teachers' salary, stationery, administration costs, utility bills for the school, etc. The money is sent to OMIF1 which pays some of the DEC costs centrally, with the remainder sent to the manager of the DEC where your child is being educated to be used to cover the daily running costs of the school.


To set up your sponsorship now, click on the button below. You will be taken to the RED International page on the Free A Dalit Child website. Make sure you register before selecting a child – this ensures that the administrators know you are sponsoring through RED International– by clicking on the ‘Register and then choose a child to sponsor’ link. When you register “RED International” should be automatically selected under “How did you come to know about us” but if it is not please select “RED International” from the dropdown list.