Obama Foundation announces Fellows for 2019, Tarun Cherukuri from India makes the cut

Obama Foundation announces Fellows for 2019, Tarun Cherukuri from India makes the cut

New Delhi, May 1: Tarun Cherukuri, co-founder of Indus Action, has been named as one of the Fellows of Obama Foundation for 2019. The Foundation has named 20 Fellows this year of which eleven are from the United States while nine are from other countries. The foundation had received thousands of applications from over 160 countries and 780 cities from the United States alone. The Obama Foundation Fellows are civic innovators who work alongside communities to address the most pressing issues faced by society today.

20 Fellows chosen from among thousands of applications coming from 160 countries

Tarun’s organisation, Indus Action, works with students, parents, educators, schools and governments in 18 states to implement the Right to Education. The Foundation’s official website quotes him as follows “Our work primarily serves disadvantaged communities in India to raise awareness about their rights and enable female community leaders to drive local campaigns by themselves.”

The Right to Education (RTE) Act was passed in 2009 which guaranteed free and compulsory education to all children aged between 6-14 years in India. Besides many other aspects, the Act granted access to private schools for disadvantaged children, thereby giving them an opportunity to enrol in high end schools. However, of the 2.1 million seats meant to be allotted under the RTE Act across various private schools, only 15% have been utilised. The schools have failed to implement the law and parents remain unaware of their children’s rights.

Tarun’s organisation- Indus Action- works towards the implementation of the Right to Education across the country

Founded in 2013, Indus Action works with local volunteers to enable parents overcome obstacles and exercise their child’s right to education. They identify the pain points of local families, educators and government that these stakeholders face while implementation of the law. While helping each community towards proper implementation of the RTE, Indus Action also ensures that girls, students with disabilities and other vulnerable children retain access to the seats meant for them. They also have a school readiness program that helps each child perform his best in school once admitted. They have enrolled over 90,000 students so far and helped families save 12% of their annual income. Their aim is to enrol one million children by 2020 and narrow the inequality gap for students studying in low income schools of India.

Tarun graduated from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani and worked with Hindustan Unilever and TeachforIndia before pursuing his Masters in Public Administration in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School.