BANGALORE, India, May 20 /PRNewswire/ --

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) released their results on Wednesday, and for the second year in a row the entire 10th grade class of Shanti Bhavan (, a tuition-free home and school dedicated to Dalit (formerly known as Untouchables) children, secured First Division in the nationally accredited ICSE examination. Shanti Bhavan is the first school for Dalits to achieve First Division in the ICSE exams in India's academic history and have replicated that success again this year.

Over 1,500 schools in India and abroad take the ICSE annually, and the tests cover a wide range of subjects, from Physics and Chemistry to English Literature and Computer Applications. First Division on the ICSE is equivalent to a 3.5 GPA and higher by U.S. standards. The ICSE exams are administered over a three-week period and high scores can pave the way to entry into India's elite universities like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM).

Shanti Bhavan's student body comes from families facing extreme poverty. Their parents are employed as sewer cleaners, carcass handlers, and in other low-paying jobs. Many are, or have been bonded-laborers, trapped in debt to landowners and money-lenders. Due to poverty and social injustice, graduating from high school has been difficult for Dalit children and only a small percentage has ever taken the ICSE.

Dr. Dagmar Etkin, a former Harvard instructor and an environmental scientist, taught Chemistry and Environmental Studies to the 10th grade. The children of Shanti Bhavan are as intelligent and educated as any of their peers. They would fit in perfectly in a class of freshmen at Harvard. She added, I cried when I saw their huts and the overwhelming poverty. It was difficult to believe this is where my students had come from. The ICSE results prove that Shanti Bhavan's model is working.

Located in Tamil Nadu, India, Shanti Bhavan is also a home for the children, offering food, clothing, medical care, and all their necessities, free of charge. The institution's stated goal is to alleviate poverty through high quality education, opening up professional career paths that would normally be denied to this segment of the population.

To contact Shanti Bhavan:

U.S.: 121 Hawkins Place, PMB 192, Boonton, NJ, 07005 (phone: +1-940-368-4370)

Website: or email

Ajit George,, +1-940-368-4370