Jaisalmer Gyaan Center

GYAAN Center, Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School, and Women’s Center

The GYAAN Center is designed by New York-based architect Diana Kellogg (DKarchitects.com).
The center is located near the village of Kanoi, Jaisalmer, on 22 bighas of land has already won numerous awards both in India and internationally.

The Need

Though Rajasthan is the third-largest Indian state with a population of 56,507,188 and a male literacy rate of 79%, it ranks the lowest in female literacy at 53%. Further, 80% of Rajasthan’s population lives in rural areas such as Jaisalmer, where female literacy only reaches 32% and women predominantly remain in the home performing domestic duties. Additionally, Rajasthan has a high number of child marriages and a shockingly high rate of female infanticide. This prevents many girls from obtaining an education and contributes to a disproportionate sex ratio favoring men. This vicious cycle of female infanticide, child marriage, and lack of education leads the entire community, especially its women, into a life of poverty and unemployment. These statistics provide compelling evidence that girls in the rural Thar Desert of Jaisalmer face some of the most difficult obstacles to developing literacy, skills, and other educational opportunities in all of India.

The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School

The Rajkumari Ratnavati School will be offered to girls below the poverty line residing in the Thar Desert region of Jaisalmer District, Rajasthan. Running a state-based curriculum, the facilities will include classrooms, a library, a computer center, and a bus facility to transport girls from neighboring villages. The school will provide education for an estimated 400+ girls, from kindergarten through class 10, who will learn to read and write and develop traditional skills unique to the region. The school will also provide mid-day meals to ensure proper nutrition for the students and to lessen families’ financial burden.

The Women’s Cooperative

CITTA also aims to enhance gender parity in the region through The Women’s Cooperative. While girls are receiving an education at the girl’s school, local artisans will teach mothers and other women weaving and embroidery techniques from the Jaisalmer region that is on the verge of becoming extinct. These lessons will preserve and enhance traditional techniques while establishing economic independence for the women, their families, and their communities. Additionally, connecting these women with contemporary designers will produce quality items for the global marketplace, thereby diversifying and stimulating the local economy. Already, CITTA has established relationships with high-end markets to create products in coordination with The Women’s Cooperative that will bring revenue to the community. The education, independence, and empowerment women gain at the GYAAN center will incentivize families to educate their daughters, bringing the benefit of the center full circle.

The Marketplace and Exhibition Space

The center will have a marketplace to beautifully display and sell the women’s goods which will draw tourists venturing to the nearby dunes to experience the sunset. It will also serve as an exhibition hall where renowned female artists and designers can collaborate with local artists to create artwork and installations further drawing people to both Jaisalmer and the center.

The proposed development of the GYAAN Center will serve a long-neglected population by educating and empowering girls and women that will benefit the entire community. A recent report from the International Monetary Fund says that education for girls has notable social benefits: higher incomes, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, and increased personal freedom in making choices.

Thank you to everyone that contributed to making this project happen!

Special thanks to the following for their contributions:

ACT Switzerland (Claudia, Ivette, Neenu)
Sarah Addington
Dana Barnes
Tim Bradley
Diana Kellogg
Joe and Sharon Kemper
Eliot Nolen
The Patel Family
Manvendra Shekhawat
Dale Westhoff

One Comment on “Jaisalmer Gyaan Center

  1. Thanks to citta to give a good opportunity to Kanoi village.