Study Hall Educational Foundation


Founding President and CEO, Study Hall Educational Foundation, Urvashi Sahni is a social entrepreneur and educationist of over 30 years standing. She founded SURAKSHA, an organisation for women in 1983 and is the founding President of the Study Hall Educational Foundation which runs 3, K-12 schools in and around Lucknow, in India. One of these schools – Vidyasthali, is a rural school and it serves 472 students from 55 villages. The other school Prerna serves 735 girls from urban slums and Study Hall serves over 2000 children from middle class Lucknow.

She has a Masters and a PhD from the Graduate School of Education in UC Berkeley. She was the first graduate from the Graduate School of Education, Berkeley to be awarded the prestigious International HAAS award for her contributions to Education in her home country. Her Schools reach out to over 6000 students in rural and urban areas, more than half of these come from extremely poor and challenging backgrounds. She has worked in curriculum reform, teacher education and school reform in collaboration with national and state governments and nonprofits in UP and other states in India.

She has presented academic papers at all the major universities in the US, including Columbia, NYU, Chicago, and Berkeley and has given Keynote addresses at international drama and education conferences in Edinburgh, Jamaica, Plymouth, Toronto, Northern Ireland and New York. She was awarded The Asoka Fellowship in the year 2010 for her work with Digital Study Hall, a program that uses technology to reach out to thousands of teachers, teacher-trainees and students from underserved areas. In the year 2011 Dr. Sahni was invited as a Guest scholar by the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC and is now a Non-resident Fellow with them. She was invited to be an honorary member of the Clinton Global Initiative founded by President Bill Clinton in 2013 and is now a member of Hillary Clinton’s CHARGE commitment to ensure that more girls complete secondary education around the world. Dr. Sahni is a member of the Rajasthan Chief Minister’s Advisory Council, with a key role in the education sub-group.

She has trained over five thousand teachers; impacted approximately a 100,000 teachers; and, touched the lives of over 300,000 students. She has pioneered teacher training programs in Issue based Drama, Activity-based learning and Critical Feminist Pedagogy in their classrooms. Drawing from her extensive experience with teachers and students, she has developed teaching learning material, using simple video technology, which she has used very effectively in large-scale teacher training programs, successfully reducing the losses inherent in the cascade model. She has also devised and implemented cost-effective methods of remotely monitoring and supporting teachers in the field, using simple mobile technology. Teachers who are often isolated because of the remoteness of their schools have welcomed this support.

Dr Sahni is currently working on a book about her Prerna Girls School.