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While institutions like Doon and the Mayo College have created a space for nurturing high potential students from India’s urban elite, a similar space did not exist for nurturing high achievers from economically backward sections of rural India. Working towards addressing the resulting lacunae of rural leadership, VidyaGyan was established as India’s first rural leadership academy for meritorious and underprivileged students from the state of Uttar Pradesh. The Academy is focused on developing future leaders who can act as catalysts of change for their communities, villages and the nation at large. While the VidyaGyan model is unique in its approach it can be scaled up and replicated anywhere in the world, especially in similar developing economies like India.

A residential academy, VidyaGyan aims to drive transformation in the country by investing in the youth and catalyzing them into future leaders. It combs all the 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populated state, to identify meritorious, rural students from economically underprivileged backgrounds. Once selected the students, who would have already completed their primary schooling, are inducted to VidyaGyan in Class VI. The students spend seven years – from class VI to XII – at the school’s residential campuses in Bulandshahr or Sitapur. The young scholars of VidyaGyan follow a carefully crafted leadership curriculum that allows them to explore their full potential.

Established in 2009 by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, the inspiration for VidyaGyan stems from the belief that high-quality education will have a positive impact on the academic and socio-economic structure of the society to a point where it can truly uplift and transform lives. VidyaGyan aims to provide the opportunities of a world-class leadership academy to the economically backward students of rural India and transform their lives using high quality school education. VidyaGyan brings students from rural India, who are potential high achievers, at par with their urban counterparts.