Ekal Vidyalaya: Education for Rural India
By examining Ekal Vidyalaya (Ekal), a non-profit network of schools in India, this case focuses on the classic challenge faced by organizations that grow through replication (e.g., McDonald's, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart): how can they continue to drive growth when their well of attractive locations begins to dry? In 1986, a group of social entrepreneurs reimagined education in India, developing a low-cost, "one-teacher school" model to provide educational access in regions that had proven cost prohibitive for government schools. They founded Ekal to fulfill the vision of a network of 100,000 one-teacher schools throughout rural India. More than a quarter century later, the Ekal network now includes more than 54,000 schools. However, with the emergence of India as an economic power, government schools have received the mandate and funds to extend their reach to many of the regions that Ekal serves. It was time to for Ekal to reevaluate their vision. Was the target of 100,000 schools, which had driven their growth thus far, still the best path forward? Or was it time to declare their mission of universal access to education a success in the regions that government schools now served and begin to scale back from those areas?