Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Lend a Hand India


The Indian secondary education curriculum and delivery methods in government schools do not equip students with skills to get jobs or earn a livelihood. Most teachers in schools follow the rote method of teaching which limits student comprehension and engagement. The existing vocational courses for youth rarely focus on developing multi-skill capabilities, problem-solving skills, teamwork, quality consciousness, and entrepreneurship. This, coupled with a lack of resources and poverty, has resulted in 62% of students in India dropping out before high school graduation. The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers; in order to impart high-quality vocational education, teachers must be trained and skilled to deliver it. Theoretical (or rote) learning must be complemented with practical learning and capabilities development. Availability of qualified vocational trainers to bridge this gap and impart such vocational education is a major challenge. With the advent of the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), the Indian education system needs to establish high-quality vocational pathways through secondary education. Government bodies such as the Office of the Director General of Employment and Training (DGET) and Ministry of Labour and Employment currently have a requirement of 76,500 trainers and the DGET alone needs additional 20,000 trainers every year.


Founded in 2006, Lend-A-Hand India (LAHI) plays an important role in making school education practical and relevant by providing job/life skills training, aptitude testing, career counseling, and bridge loans for budding entrepreneurs starting their micro-enterprises to resource-poor youth who otherwise would have limited income-generating potential. By partnering locally with community groups and governments, it works at the intersection of education and livelihoods to provide youth with employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. LAHI has 3 major programs: Job and Life Skills training program for secondary school students, Junior Rural Fellowship Program for college students from villages, and a Loan Scholarship Program for students pursuing higher education in technical fields. Its job and life skills program reaches over 13,000 rural boys and girls in secondary schools from 5 states: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. LAHI has a gender-equitable approach to education where they expose both boys and girls to occupations and skills generally limited to one sex. LAHI works within the government school system and ensures buy-in from the local community to promote attendance in schools. Since the LAHI program was introduced in 2005, there is an average 95% attendance rate in school on the day that these classes are offered; during the rest of the week, attendance is about 75%. Its curriculum is recognized as NSQF (National Skills Curriculum Framework) compliant for Grades 10- 11.

LAHI has entered into a MoU with the Government of Maharashtra to act as its “Resource Partner” to introduce vocational education in 1500 schools over the next three years. LAHI’s vocational education has become part of the core curriculum in Maharashtra and carries equal weight as the math, science, social science and languages courses. Raj Gilda, the co-founder, is a member of the committee constituted to draft the state policy for vocational education as well as review the syllabus for vocational training, and he has been appointed as a member of the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), a Central Government institution in charge of coordinating skill development efforts at the national level. LAHI is scaling by working with state governments to implement their model in their school systems. They have achieved state government partnerships in the states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh and are in talks with the States of Telegana and Haryana. LAHI was founded and is headed by husband and wife, Sunanda Mane and Raj Gilda. Sunanda and Raj were based in New York, where Raj worked in finance (at the National Stock Exchange in Mumbai and at Citi in New York) for over 13 years and Sunanda worked with the UN. They founded LAHI in 2006 because they wanted to give back to the District of Satara where Sunanda is from; Raj and Sunanda returned to India in 2011 and have grown LAHI since.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 6th grant to LAHI to train 300 youth over 2 years to become nationally accredited vocational trainers in schools. These trainers will help 10,000 at-risk adolescents in government schools to improve their technical skills in STEM subjects.

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