Our work in India dates back to 1992 and has recently focused increasingly on building the capacity of frontline workers and supporting urban design interventions that make cities accessible to their youngest residents.

In our Parents+ work, after several years supporting NGOs to test models of mother tongue-based early learning in Odisha, we are working with the Odisha state government’s Ministry of Women and Child Development to take the programme to scale, training over 8,000 anganwadi workers and supervisors engaged in working with young children across the state.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 programme evolved from our recent work in India. The country has become a global focus for urban policy, due to its goal of building 100 “smart cities” and the expected high rate of urbanisation in the coming years: still less than a third of the country’s 1.25 billion population lives in cities, but the proportion is projected to reach half by 2030.

We are supporting Bhubaneswar’s goal of becoming the first child- and family-friendly city in India, gaining experience that can be applied in other regions. We are working with the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, which has set up a Child-Friendly Smart City Centre to transform the city’s slums into child-friendly planned neighbourhoods. Our ongoing partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a think tank which guides government policy, further enables the dissemination of knowledge about how to engage in city planning from a young child’s perspective.