Developing a New Perspective in Lucknow: Study Hall Educational Foundation

During our travels in India we spent time in Uttar Pradesh (UP) the most populated state in the country, and Uttarakhand located in Northern India. After our homesteads in Dehradun we traveled to Rishikesh, a city up in the foothills of the Himalayas, and the birth place of yoga. In Rishikesh we saw the ashram the Beatles spent a year and a half at in 1968, dipped our toes in the Ganga, the largest and most holy river in India, and learned about spiritualism at a traditional Hindu aarti. Following Rishikesh we took a 12 hour overnight train to Lucknow, where we finally got our first real glimpse into the gender equality issues faced by young girls and women across the country.

Arriving in Lucknow at 10:00 AM most felt grumpy and groggy after enduring a long and bumpy journey, that in typical Indian fashion, was two hours off schedule. After a quick breakfast, dropping our bags at our hotel and wishing we had time for a nap, we got on the bus and headed to the Study Hall School. I was not prepared for the impact this visit would have on me as we stepped into the school yard. As we walked to our meeting room I saw many faces peeping out to catch a look at the strange group of visitors in their school, most were friendly and waving, and a few had shy smiles. We were led into a large room given a delicious lunch and tea and began to learn all about the Study Hall Educational Foundation (SHEF) from our coordinator Anand.

SHEF is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1994 by Urvashi Sahni, with the mission of providing a quality education and building a “universe of care” to empower students, particularly girls, and help them emerge as women with a perception of themselves as equal and capable individuals. SHEF is comprised of several schools including the Study Hall School, Prerna Girls School, Prerna Boys School, Vidyasthali School, and most recently the Study Hall College. In addition to these schools SHEF works with over 900 schools in Northern India through their Digital Study Hall program, and reaches 5,00,000 children living across the country through the use of teacher training and video lessons. SHEF tackles the most difficult problems facing UP today by integrating developing a social and political consciousness into their curriculum.

SHEF operates by using the revenue from the fee-paying students who attend the highly regarded Study Hall School in the morning, to provide free schooling to the Prerna girls and boys in the afternoon. The Prerna schools are for students coming from low socio-economic backgrounds, most of whom work in the mornings and thus are able to attend school in the afternoons. Currently the Prerna schools host 800 and 165 girls and boys respectively. The Prerna Girls School enables girls to take a feminist stance in their lives by integrating Dr. Sahni’s feminist pedagogy into their daily studies.

During our visit we were able to stop into a Prerna girls’ classroom age 16-18, where they were in the middle of a “critical dialogue” where the girls engage in discussion on topics such as equality, gender, health, etc. That day the girls were talking about what a “good” Indian girl looks like, acts like, etc. They asked us questions about what we thought a “good” American girl was like and they were surprised to find that we both face some of the same gender stereotypes. The girls were very curious what other kinds of issues we face in the U.S. including marriage, harassment, and rape. I was completely blown away by the girls’ maturity, confidence, and passion on these topics.

My admiration for the Prerna Girls and their determination to use their voice only grew when we came back to Study Hall the next day and met with students from Prerna, Study Hall, and Vidyasthali-a rural school outside of Lucknow all in one room. Four Prerna girls preformed a beautiful poem and dance in Hindi and English about girls never really having a place to call home as they are forced out of their homes as girls to be married off to another family. (see below) That day we interacted with all of the students and broke out into groups to have conversations and perform skits for everyone on the topic of equality. Each group had a creative twist on the assignment and addressed issues like gender, economic, and racial inequality.

I was shocked by the Prena girls’ openness to speak on their experiences and humbled by their courage in facing danger when getting to school or even using the toilet at home. Hearing these girls stand up and speak about their fight to avoid forced child marriage at just 15 put my life and my privilege into perspective. I left Study Hall School with not only a new point of view, but also with admiration for the resiliency and hope the students displayed.

In Search of a Home
Written by Prerna and Vidyasthali high school students
From birth to the day we die
We wander this earth in fright
Yet we find no home in sight.
My first world was a pitch black veil
Where I was overcome by a mysterious fear.
But I took comfort in my mother, in her warmth.
Cozy in her womb, my home was here.
As I left this haven, light flooded my eyes
I awaited my new home with utter delight
But I was left with just one thought
Is this new home what I once sought?
From mother’s embrace to father’s I pass
As she says “We are blessed by the gods.”
But as I looked into the faces of others
An unsettling gloom was quickly uncovered.
It wasn’t just a home, but also my playground
Every wall a mural, every rag was a crown.
The outside world called to me,
But inside I remained.
“Outside is not safe for girls,”
I was told everyday.
I am not truly theirs to keep,
So they must keep me safe.
But not to worry, they said,
That I’ll find me my home one day.
My illusions were shattered
and in corners I would weep
As my drunk father ravaged Mother
And threatened her with the street!

And in these moments I wondered,
“How dare he claim this house his own?
When really it is Mother
Who makes this house our home.”
The years went by, I turned sixteen.
Able, now, to understand my plight.
What I once thought was my house to roam
I then knew would never be my home..
Lovely it was, my wedding gown
Ceremonious vanity unmatched
A new journey began, as I bid farewell
And to a new home, unknown, I marched
In corners I heard them whispering
“She has finally found her home”
While my father pled, “Be brave!
“Your next journey shall be ‘til the grave.”
I knew he meant that he’d cut our ties.
What I once thought was home, isn’t mine.
He wanted me to brave the sins
Just as my mother stayed silent for him
I no longer knew which was my home.
Where I grew up? where I was thrown?
I wondered, where was my mother’s home?
I knew deep down that she had none.
As I entered this seemingly welcoming house,
A golden cage that wasn’t golden in the end,
I had the chains back on again
My whole being choked, but not a word I said
I was to them a homemaker
With two homes but none
The homes were made
But my life left undone
On God’s good earth, each has their home.
How can it be, that I have none?
In the end I am left, ripped at the seam.
The world has pushed me too far to dream
But, my dream, a home, I shall claim
Where I am at peace and finally safe
A place to finally call my own.
My final destination, my home.

Study Hall School Cultural Fest Chrysalis 2018

The Study Hall School under the aegis of Study Hall Educational Foundation organised its biannual art, literary and cultural festival – Chrysalis - from 26 to 28 July 2018. 

The highlight of the event was that every Study Hall student from class 6 to class 10 will be participated in some competition or the other. In total 1000 students from Study Hall and over 200 students from other schools like Prerna Girls School, Vidyasthali School Malihabad and Center for Learning will also be joined in. 

Art, literary, tech and science model competitions were the highlight of the festival.

The Study Hall School, Gomtinagar held it’s three-day-long cultural fest ‘Chrysalis 2018’ from 26 July, 2018 to 28 July, 2018. It was a grand affair and over one thousand students participated in the event. The fest was the manifestation of Study Hallian principles, values and talent. The theme of Chrysalis 2018 was ‘Changemaking’. The fest was held in the school premises. Over 25 events and competitions were held in the span of 3 days. The competitions were held either inter-house or intra-foundation. The whole Study Hall Foundation took part in the cultural fest. Prerna and Vidyasthali emerged victorious in many events in which they participated.  The fest was managed by the student council and the four houses.

Chrysalis- It’s the stage in the life of a butterfly in which the larva builds cocoon around itself and prepares itself to face the world. In this stage only that the wings appear. Clearly, the title justifies the journey of each student of study hall who participated in the fest. The fest helped students discover their latent talents and potential. It was an amazing journey for each one at Study Hall, be it a teacher, student or the supporting staff. The house captains and the student council did their best to make this fest a successful one.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: The journey is always more beautiful than the destination. The experiences that one collects on the course of his/her journey is what he/she treasures lifelong. The fest taught students team spirit, time management and most importantly how to think out of the box. Every soul in Study Hall Foundation gave their hundred percent. The successful three-day long gala was the result of the determination, burning zeal, and passion of each individual.

There were over 25 events out of which some are mentioned below:

Elomime- This was for classes 8th-10th. It took place in the junior AC hall. It was also an intra foundation competition. They all took poems and acted beautifully on them.

Dance- The intra foundation dance competition took place on the 26th of July. The participants were from 6th to 12th. It happened on the Senior stage. All the teams danced gracefully on the topic, “I’m the change”.

Indian music- This event was for standards 6th-8th, it happened in the Junior AC Hall. They all sang beautiful folk songs.

Western music- This singing competition was held for classes 9th-12th and they all sang award-winning songs. It happened in the Junior AC hall. The melodious voices held the audience in a spectacular trance as though casting spells with their voices.

Wall painting- All the 7 units of the Study Hall Educational Foundation (SHEF) were allotted a wall in the senior school. They all painted splendor on the canvas depicting the change they wanted to see.

Filmmaking- This inter-house competition focused on the theatrical as well as the photographic skills of the students. All the four houses made movies on change.

Spin a yarn- this inter foundation competition was for classes 9th and 10th. Each team only had one minute to build a gripping tale.

Turn quote- Ever heard the pros and cons of a quote? That’s what Turn Quote is all about. Each participant had to speak both for and against one line in this competition. This competition was for classes 11th and 12th.

Orchestra- This competition was really harmonious. All the participants from classes 6th to 12th were synchronised with their groups. This inter-house competition made the school love music even more.

Rasabhivyakti- The students from class 9-12 of Study Hall participated in this inter-house event in which they had to narrate the poem and enact it. Bringing out the ‘Rasa’ or the true meaning of the poem through acting and narration was the main agenda. Not only the orators but the actors were eloquent and caught us all with their charisma.

Photography- This event was intra-foundation event in which the candidates were required to capture real-life situations. All the wings of the foundation did an amazing job. They depicted around us the world which we so often forget to look at.

Green wall- In this inter-house event, the students created a green art piece using plants.

Yoga- Solo and group competitions were held. The unique part of this competition was the yoga quiz in which participants were tested for their knowledge of Yoga.

Gyananjali- It was an intra-foundation event which had three rounds with different people in each one. There were seven teams.

First round- One word and they had to give a synonym for it.

Second round- A poem was read out and they had to guess the poet.

Third round- A Hindi movie clip was shown and they had to guess the author of the book.The event was one of the most interesting ones.

Western Music-This singing competition was held for classes 9th-12th and they all sang award-winning songs. It happened in the Junior AC hall. The melodious voices held the audience in a spectacular trance as though casting spells with their voices

Every good thing has to end. The Chrysalis 2018 ended on a harmonious note. Western Music competition was the last competition on the list. After that Dr. Urvashi Sahni, founder of Study Hall Educational Foundation addressed the student body. The results were declared and it brought tears of both joy and happiness.It was a victory moment for some and a melancholy note for others. It was a memorable time for Prerna Girls School and Vidyasthali School who secured positions in many intra-foundation events. The glittering golden trophy chose yellow to be it’s favourite. And, even though the winner among the houses, Cypress, cheered for each other and stood tall, they also showed great respect for their fellow teams. The others following in their footsteps celebrated their victory as well.

The school is not only hoisting a flag and banner for change but marches forward or rather flies ahead with the wings that each one of us chose instead of crawling through life, thus, following the words of Rumi, “Why prefer to crawl through life when you are born to fly?”


Inter Houser Trophy 

Winner - Cypress House

Running-up:  Silver-Oak

Dance :

Winner - Prerna Girls School, Running-up-  Vidyasthali School, Malihabad

Story weaving :

Winner - Study Hall School, Running-up-  Prerna Girls School

Indian Music:

Winner - Study Hall School


Winner - Prerna Girls School, Running-up-  Centre for Learning


Winner - Study Hall School, Running-up-  Centre for Learning

CBSE class 10th results brings joy for Study Hall School

The Central Board of Secondary Education Has Declared The result of class 10th this afternoon. Study Hall school located in Vipul Khand 2 Gomti Nagar had great results this year. The highest score of this batch is 97.8 %.

The Topper of the year Yash Pant, 17. Son of Mr. Bhuwan Pant (Teacher) and Mrs. Meena Pant (Homemaker). She said he did a great job by scoring such good marks, his parents are really happy with the results. He Scored 98 in Hindi, 100 in Computer Science 100 in Science, 99 in math and 98 in social studies. He also shared his strategies and said that he was regular in class and consistent to his studies, and he revised everything taught in class every day at home. He wants to be an engineer. He also shared he use to play video games when he was stressed during exams and studies. He said “I worked very hard to get these scores and I am happy that I met my expectations.”

Another student From Study hall Astha Katiyar, 15, scored 96.6%. she scored 95 in English, 98 in Hindi, 98 in Social studies, 95 in Math, and 97 in science. She said “I prepared before my pre-board exams and revised every day after pre-boards”. She also added, her father supported her a lot and gave her freedom to choose her field of studies.

Overall it was the happy and successful result for school and students, as well as their Family.

Prerna girls shine in CBSE exam

Study Hall Educational Foundation Prerna girls who completed their 12th from CBSE board from Study Hall wing. Three girls from Prerna Girls Got transfer from Prerna NIOS to Study hall CBSE to complete their Sr. secondary from the science stream.   Jyoti Lodhi aged 17 scored 67.2 %, Jyoti Kannoujia aged 18 scored 64%, and Sapna Verma (age- 17) scored 62.02%.

The girls shared about their stories and told about how tough it was for them to study in English medium school as they got transferred from Hindi medium. Jyoti Lodhi who scored highest among all three shared, all her studies from nursery to grade 10th were in Hindi and sudden language change was shocking and difficult for her. She struggled for few weeks and then she started finding ways to overcome her problem. And she finally found a way to conquer her problems by finding her course books in Hindi to understand her syllabus and whatever she learned in class in Hindi she use to revise that in Hindi at home and she finally cleared all her exams. She said being a daughter of the sweet maker I feel proud and happy to see my result. I definitely struggled but finally, I made it and I am happy about my result.

Jyoti Kannoujia who scored 64% daughter Of Mr. Moti Lal Kannoujia who works as washer man scored 66 in Hindi, 51 in physics, 64 in chemistry, 65 In biology, 74 in Physical Education.  She said her father supported her to study further and not to stay at home and earning. They wanted her to be a successful person. Jyoti said she wants to be a Gynecologist.  She said she was unable to get her course books. “I have studies online and used the sites to study it was tough because I don’t have Internet at home, so I get all the copies so I can study at nights.” She said she could have done better if the classes were in Hindi but she is still happy. “It was challenging but I won,” she said.

Sapna Verma scored 62.02 % daughter of Mr. Manohar Lal cook shared about her experience and said it was tough but I did take extra classes and joined coaching to do better in her exams. She is happy and has goals to e a doctor and serves her community.

Study Hall children all smiles after CBSE class 12 results

The Central Board of Secondary Education Has Declared The result of class 12th this afternoon. Study Hall school located in Vipul Khand 2 Gomtinagar had great results this year. The highest score of this batch is 97% and the average score is 80.02%.

The Topper of the year Aarushi Roy aged 17. Daughter of Mr. Mayank Roy (businessman) and Mrs. Tanvi Roy(Homemaker) Studied Humanities In School. She said she chose this stream to break the stereotypes of people about the stream as people say it doesn’t have a scope. She said she did a great job by scoring such good marks. She Scored 95 in English, 100 in History, 100 in Psychology, 94 in Political Science 96 in Economics.

She also shared her strategies and said that she was regular in class and studied 8-10 hour every day, she also added she never studied under pressure and stayed active on social sites and on phone to relieve her stress. Another student From Study hall  Muskaan Singh with science stream scored 95.2 % marks. Muskaan Singh Daughter of Mr. A.k Singh and Mrs. Renu Singh.  Muskaan Shared about her Methods of studies and said,  She was focused and solved papers of last 10 years. She Said she wanted to get her Ph.Ed In Technology and be a professor.

She said “I love to play Volleyball and cricket, and music is her stress reliever, I also love to spend a lot of my time with friends and family, that help me to stay relax and happy.

She gave credit for her success to her Mother and said “ she was my backbone and she supported me the most and everything I achieve in my life will be dedicated to her. I can do nothing without her love and support.”

Overall it was the happy and successful result for school and students, as well as their Family.  

Digital Study Hall’s Moni Kannaujia wins Hindustan Times – Young Society Leader Award

Moni Kannaujia, who leads SHEF’s Content Development team has been chosen as the Young Society Leader at the HT Woman Awards 2018. We would like to thank all our supporters and Hindustan Times.

Ms. Moni Kannaujiya has championed the cause of girls’ education by producing over 1000 quality video lessons which are available free of cost on the internet. She has risen through the ranks and is currently leading Content Production at Study Hall Educational Foundation’s outreach unit. She comes from a low-income family but has beaten the odds to become a role model in her community. 

Since the age of 15, Moni has been working and paying for her education, and has now surpassed her parents to become the highest earner in the family. She graduated from Study Hall Educational Foundation’s Prerna Girls School in the year 2012, earned her Bachelor of Arts in 2015, and is now pursuing her Master’s in Journalism and Mass Communication at Lucknow University.

A natural young leader, Moni currently supervises a team of over ten teacher experts and two video production associates. She and her team produce videos lessons on quality pedagogy for under resourced classrooms. They also record critical dialogues between students and teachers that are part of SHEF’s feminist curriculum; these videos are used to strengthen the Aarohini girls’ education and empowerment program in more than 700 government schools in the state, promoting a greater understanding of gender and patriarchy in these communities. Additionally, Moni manages a YouTube channel for these video lessons that has over 21,000 subscribers and 3 million views.

Moni was an integral part of a study for ‘Mapping Vulnerability of Adolescent Girls in Uttar Pradesh,’ commissioned by Unicef. She is also a Woman Power Angel, designated as civil police to fight and report crimes against women by the Uttar Pradesh state government.

Indian’s Daughter Campaign 2018: Unwanted, Unequal and Unsafe

प्रेरणा बालक/बालिका विद्यालय, स्टडी हाॅल स्कूल, व सेन्टर फाॅर लर्निंग के 400 विद्यार्थियों द्वारा, भारत की बेटियांः अनचाही, असमान और असुरक्षित विषय पर जागरूक्ता रैली निकाली, रैली स्टडी हाल स्कूल से निकल कर पटेलपुरम, मलेशा मऊ, खरगापुर, से होते हुए मकदूमपुर, गोमतीनगर पर समाप्त की गई। जिसमें लगभग 4000 लोगों तक बाल विवाह, छेड़छाड़ और लड़कियों के खिलाफ हो रही हिंसा को रोकने के लिए संदेश पहुंचाया गया। विद्यार्थियों ने नुकड नाटक किया, नारे लगाये व बाल विवाह कानून के बारे में लोगों को बता कर समुदाय के लोगों को जागरूक किया और उन्हे शपथ दिलाया कि वो अपने बच्चों का विवाह सही समय पर और उनकी इच्छा के अनुसार करेंगे और बच्चों की पढ़ाई में कोई बाधा नही आने देंगे।

स्टडी हाॅल ऐजुकेशनल फाउन्डेशन द्वारा पिछले 6 वर्षों से इन्डियाज़ डाटर कैम्पेन नाम से लड़कियों और औरतों के खिलाफ हो रही हिंसा के विरूद्व जागरूक्ता अभियान चालाया जा रहा है। प्रत्येक वर्ष की तरह इस वर्ष भी इन्डियाज़ डाटर कैम्पेन के अन्र्तगत भारत की बेटीयां, अनचाही, समानय, असुरक्षित मुद्दे पर पूरे उत्तर प्रदेश में जागरूक्ता अभियान चलाया जा रहा है। आज दिनांक 28/04/2018 को लखनऊ के चार क्षेत्रों में पटेलपुरम, मलेशा मऊ, खरगापुर, और मकदूमपुर, में जागरूक्ता रैली निकाली गई, जिसमें प्रेरणा बालक/बालिका विद्यालय, स्टडी हाॅल स्कूल, व सेन्टर फाॅर लर्निंग के 400 विद्यार्थियों ने प्रतिभाग किया। जिसमें विद्यार्थियों ने नाटक के द्वारा लोगों को जागरूक करने का प्रयास किया, नाटक देखने के बाद समुदाय की कई महिलाओं ने कहा कि उनका विवाह 14, 15 वर्ष की उम्र में ही हो गया था लेकिन अब वो अपनी बेटियों के साथ ऐसा नही होने देंगी। मकदूमपुर से असलम जी ने कहा कि लड़कियों के साथ हो रही हिंसा को रोकने के लिए पूरे समाज को साथ आना होगा, मेरी बहन का बाल विवाह हुआ था लेकिन अब मैं अपनी बच्चियों का बाल विवाह नही होने दूंगा। कुछ पुरूषों ने कहा कि समाज में लड़कियां सुरक्षित नही हैं इस लिए माॅ बाप उनकी शादी जल्दी कर देते हैं ताकि लड़की अपने घर की हो जाये। बच्चियों ने समुदाय को बाल विवाह कानून के बारे में बताते हुए समाज़ को लड़कियों के प्रति संवदेनशील होने व लड़कियों को भी एक नागरिक के रूप में स्वीकार करने की अपील की, साथ ही यह भी कहा कि बच्चियों का बाल विवाह करने या सुरक्षा के ड़र से पढ़ाई छुडा कर घर में बिठाने के बजाये लड़कों को शिक्षित व जागरूक करें ताकि लड़कियां अपनी जिन्दगी को खुल कर जी सकें।

Study Hall Educational Foundation – NPTT Convocation

‘Don’t think of teaching as a part-time profession’

Lucknow: The third convocation ceremony of the Nursery and Primary Teacher’s Training (NPTT) Programme of the Study Hall Educational Foundation was held at the Study Hall Prep School here on Thursday. The event started with a welcome speech by the director of the training program Priya Kakkar said that it has been a very enlightening journey for journey for her and the trainees.Dr. Urvashi Sahni, the founder and CEO of the Study Hall Educational Foundation said, “The graduating teachers should continue to learn to sustain good teaching practices. Don’t think of teaching as a part-time profession. It shapes leaders as most of the personality is shaped by the age of 7″.A total of 13 teachers graduated on the occasion out of three have already got jobs in reputed schools of the city. Glimpses of the training program were shared with the guests. Shashi Prabha Acharya the principal of Study Hall Prep School said that the toolbox of the trained teachers is ready and now they should go out and express themselves.Those who have got placements already include Archana Verma, Fatima and Parveen. The graduating trainees also shared their experience and said that teaching and learning have to keep happening simultaneously. “The last year has been one of the most memorable years of my life. It’s almost like a new beginning and I very happy and sad at the same time to be graduating from NPTT. I would like to thank all my teachers for their guidance”, said one of the graduating trainees.