Posted March 17, 2008

Fox School of Business statistics professor Jagbir Singh makes education possible for girls in rural India

Beyond Temple

In the Indian village of Rathora, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is a beautiful campus in the Indian countryside — a secondary school for girls.

The Hoshiari Devi Girls School is the brainchild of Jagbir Singh, professor of statistics at the Fox School of Business, and his wife.

Singh, whose research has focused on modeling volatility in financial time series and semi-parametric models in survival analysis, began development of Hoshiari Devi Girls School in 1995 after receiving a monetary award for the Temple Great Teacher Award. The school opened its doors in 1998.

Professor Jagbir Singh recognizes Hoshiar Devi students who have excelled in academics and those who have excelled in sports at a school ceremony.
Photo courtesy Jagbir Singh
Professor Jagbir Singh (far right) recognizes Hoshiari Devi students who have excelled in academics and those who have excelled in sports at a school ceremony.

“What stands out when I go there is that the school is providing education that is not only book education, but also has a very solid curriculum that gives values to girls,” said Singh.

While primary schools in India are co-ed, secondary schools tend to be separated by sex, and girls’ schools are seldom built in the countryside. Girls usually have to walk three to four miles to attend school, making their education either tedious or neglected.

Hoshiari Devi Girls School stands out not only in its very existence, but also in its quality. There is a full campus — not just a schoolhouse — with computers and athletic facilities. Last year, 28 out of 30 graduates passed the state education board examination (the Indian equivalent of the SAT) with distinction. Three of the girls went on to college.

Along with his financial contribution, as president of the committee responsible for running the school, Singh remains very involved in the school’s operations. He stays in touch with teachers and motivates them.

The idea for the school emerged in 1982 after the death of Singh’s mother, who lived in Rathora until she married, and who remained uneducated.

“I wanted to do something in honor of my mother’s memory. She insisted on our being educated and said we should be schooled instead of working in farming,” said Singh.

The land for the school campus was donated by the village. Still, the cost of running the school for everything from salaries to transportation to classrooms and labs, is not met by the $3 monthly fee charged to students — many of whom cannot afford to pay even this amount.

To help, a number of unsolicited donors have also stepped in.

One such donor is Arvind Phatak, professor of general and strategic management and executive director for the Center for International Business Education Research at the Fox School.

“I know the conditions of villages in India are quite different from those of the cities and schooling is very difficult,” said Phatak, who also hails from India. “I was impressed that a colleague of mine would have the foresight and heart to embark on this mission of educating girls in an Indian village and giving them an opportunity to go to school.” To read more about the school, visit its web site, designed by the Singh family and incorporating ideas from the girls of the village school, at

— Written by Andrew Thompson

For the Fox School of Business