About Us

Who We Are

The Ferdinand Centre (TFC) is a non-profit R&D initiative working to create and improve access to 21st century courses and learning materials focusing on education for Social Justice, for India’s students and their educators. The Ferdinand Centre prioritizes the originally European concept of a liberal arts education, the “humansitische Bildung” that sought to develop students’ humanity as well as intellectual capacities, which in our view leads to readiness for civic life, as well as for higher education and employment.

TFC has been incubated in the Centre for Equity Studies–with seed funding from the Wipro Applying Thought in Schools (WATIS) programme–under the enlightened mentorship of Harsh Mander, human rights activist, researcher, writer, teacher, and tireless policy advocate.

The Ferdinand Centre draws from the diverse work of its partners, whose work includes grassroots to policy level efforts to deliver equity and justice for the poorest and most excluded in Indian society.

We function as an Education Resource Collaborative to promote the use of rich and current curricular materials on self-development, citizenship and social justice in school and higher education institutions in India.

About Ferdinand

The Ferdinand Centre is named to honour the memory and pioneering work of Ferdinand Van Koolwijk (1952-2013), whose vision of establishing model homes in Government schools for girls on and off the streets of India, led to partnership with Aman Biradari and the Centre for Equity Studies in 2005, and the establishment of 45 homes in 7 States under the banner of the Rainbow Foundation of India (RFI). In Ferd’s passing, many of us lost a dear friend and a profound inspiration, and the street-children of India lost a stalwart advocate, who put all his energies into promoting their well-being.The eulogy below was written on Ferd’s untimely death in 2013.


We observe with concern the shortfalls and gross inequities of existing educational arrangements which have failed to create anything like a level playing field for India’s children. Where a child is born continues to determine a child’s destiny in democratic India. Among Dalit, Tribal and Muslim children between the ages of 6 to 13, 5.96, 5.9 and 7.67 per cent respectively are out of school, compared to 2.67 for the remaining population. Fewer children from these groups complete schooling: 56 per cent of Dalit and 70.9 per cent of tribal children drop out of school by Class X, compared to 49.3 per cent for the overall population (MHRD, 2009;2010) 1 2. Schools, therefore, must be recognized not just as a site of socialization, but also where life chances of children are moulded (Vasavi, 2014)3. Govinda and Bandopadhyaya (2011)4 articulate the link between quality and equity, stating categorically that “mere provisioning for school is not enough to prevent drop out as the poor quality of education and lack of opportunities for progression create a lack of interest in education and cause exclusion”

Our Strategy

The key strategy of The Ferdinand Centre is the building of a dynamic web-enabled educational platform that:

  • Collects and curates knowledge from islands of innovation around India and the world to engage students and educators;
  • Creates and conducts courses and other learning opportunities for students, teachers and teacher educators;
  • Connects the system’s own teacher educators, teachers and students with each other, and with education innovators and social researchers in formal and non-formal settings;
  • Unites them in ongoing processes of collaborative, high quality 21st century learning and knowledge creation.

Expected Outputs


Website Phase 2 Learning Management System Operational April 2017

Curricular Packages:

  • Understanding Exclusion in India : Modules based on the India Exclusion Report for use by teachers of senior undergraduate and post-graduate students
  • Self-Development: Readiness for College and Civic Life : Curriculum for Senior Secondary and First-year College Students
  • Doing Citizenship: A short course for senior undergraduate students and pre-service teachers to develop capacities for field-based research while consolidating an understanding of engaged, democratic and compassionate citizenship.
  • Interrogating Gender: Curricular package for adolescent girls in the 45 Rainbow Homes in 7 States, with online support for their teachers

Resource Banks: Communalism and Secularism, Self-development, College Readiness, Caste, Gender, Poverty, Exclusion

Film Annotations: A bank of 50 annotations on films around social justice and ethical issues for use by educators and others.


Our Team

We are a small team of researchers, teachers and teacher educators with extensive experience in education at different levels and in different contexts: in school and university classrooms, in in-service and pre-service professional development of teachers, teacher educators and school-leaders, and in non-formal settings.

We bring our experience of working with community organizations, academic institutions and national and international NGOs into our efforts to tackle educational problems and create learning opportunities. We draw on the latest international thinking in education as we seek to learn from best practices globally and develop curricular solutions for the complexities and diversities of the Indian context.

Our Partners

Association for Rural and Urban Needy
The Association for Rural and Urban Needy (ARUN) is a registered organisation that works to establish caring, development supporting systems through the provision of democratic spaces in urban and rural areas. It works in solidarity with a range of underprivileged groups, including dalits, safai karmacharis, children and homeless people.

Work With Us

Internship Opportunity at TFC

Currently we are in the process of building an online resource library for students, teachers and teacher
educators and we would like to invite interns to support us in the process of video production.

The Core Tasks are:

  • Finding films that can be used as part of the curriculum
  • Video Editing
  • Subtitling

Get in Touch

If you have any questions regarding programs, facilities or have requests or suggestions to make, feel free to give us a call or fill out the form below.