In 1999, in partnership with the government and other voluntary organisations, UNICEF initiated a project for girls’ education in four blocks of Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district, where female literacy was about 15 per cent.
Alternative learning centres (ALCs) were established in villages that did not have a primary school within a one-kilometre radius with the active participation of communities. Instructors were selected in co-operation with panchayats and preference was given to local candidates.
The number of alternative learning centres increased from 50 in 1999 to 140 in 2001 when more than 4000 children were enrolled - a significant majority of which were out-of-school girls.
A one-year residential camp programme for girls was also introduced to provide learning opportunities for older out-of-school girls. This is now being replicated under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) across the state.