Cost-Reduction methods

On this page you will find some cost-reduction methods which may be employed by SoM. These are especially applicable to schools.

Funding problems in Rural Schools

I think, lack of funds is the most major issue in most rural schools. Here are list of some common problems in a typical rural school. I have seen most of these myself.

Where rural children and their families are dying because of lack of education, it is important to save every penny and spend it where it matters most. These cost-reduction methods can prove essential for success of a school. In many rural schools, no amount of donations can completely fulfill the need of funds. There is always a scarcity.

Schools can save a lot of funds by spending less and living simply, and spending on essentials. This is something village students are more adept at. Teachers and the management find this more difficult because generally they are from a more urban background.

Software Licensing Costs

Applicable to: Urban and Rural areas

Ubuntu Linux can be used to save licensing costs of Microsoft Windows. All computers in SoM may use Linux primarily. After all, most of the office and school employees use Chrome, File manager, video/audio player, and Office suite, for day to day work. These work quite well in Linux. Google Docs or MS Office can be used online. Libre Office is an offline option.
Some licenses for MS Windows, MS office, expensive Adobe tools like Photoshop, etc, will probably be required.

Virtual Machines can also be used to keep licensing costs low using some innovative ideas.

Building Construction costs

Applicable to: Rural areas

Ideas from Architect Laurie Baker can be used to construct cheaper and more cost-effective buildings for rural schools. Laurie Baker, known as the Architect of the Poor, built many buildings in southern India using low cost Building design and construction methods.

Watch from 9:42 min


Savings may vary depending on the construction.

Building Operation costs 

Applicable to: Rural and Urban areas

Green Building principles, like the cool roof technique, and roof gardening & farming, can be used to keep running costs of the buildings low. Temperatures are expected to rise drastically in next few decades. Farming & Gardening is anyways likely to be part of the school curriculum.


Savings may vary depending on the building and other factors.

Teacher Hiring Costs

Applicable to: Urban and Rural areas

At college level or may be at school level also, Coursera, EdX, Khan Academy, and other MOOCs platforms can be used to reduce the costs of paying salary to expert teachers. It is better to hire a few top class teachers (and some TAs) than hiring many average teachers.


Savings may vary depending on the complete plan.

Hardware Costs

Applicable to: Rural and Urban areas

Thin client architecture can be used to keep the costs of computer labs low. It allows using a single powerful CPU with 5-6 monitors, thus allowing 5-6 users to work individually on a separate monitor, each of which feels like a separate dedicated computer.

If we talk about actual hardware costs, the option of using refurbished or donated hardware needs to be explored.


An average desktop computer good enough for a school's computer lab may cost around Rs 24K plus a Rs 3K UPS. 5 computers will cost about Rs 1.35L. 

Using a thin client architecture, we need:
a server host with a good CPU (roughly Rs 15-20K),  
5 monitors (5 * Rs 5K),
5 thin clients (5 * Rs 3.5K)
1 or more UPS (Rs 7.5K)

In total it may cost around Rs 75-80K for 5 computers. Additionally, there will be substantial saving on energy consumption also.


Applicable to: Rural areas

There are some innovative ways of refrigeration that need to be tested out, like, mitticool refrigerator. A mitti-cool refrigerator costs about Rs 8000. It runs without electricity. Find more about it.


Applicable to: Rural areas

Residential schools need ways to commute for 1-2 people at a time, or a group of people at a time, or for the whole school at a time. 

For a residential school in a rural area, instead of buying a car, for local travel, it is better to keep an Electric auto, which is much cheaper and has much less operational costs, even though it may be less comfortable.

Mahindra Treo EV

Cost: Around Rs 3 Lakh in 2023
Horse Power: 10hp
Top Speed: 55km/hr


Mahindra Treo Yaari EV

Cost: Around Rs 2 Lakh in 2023
Horse Power: 2hp
Top Speed: 24.5 km/hr



Petrol cars (like Alto) start at around Rs 3.5L in India. An EV auto which is good enough for local travel may cost around Rs 2L. Availability of electricity in a village is likely to be an issue.
The auto needs to be modified and covered to make it prone to pollution.

Electric Cycle

For local travel, instead of a regular motor bike, it is better to buy an EV bike which runs at upto 30 Km/hr speed. 

Essel Energy GET 1 EV

Cost: Around Rs 40K in 2023
Top Speed: Around 25 km/hr



An average petrol 2-wheeler may cost around Rs 80K, an EV cycle which is good enough for local travel may cost around Rs 40K. Savings on fuel consumption is additional. Availability of electricity in a village is likely to be an issue.

BUILDINGS: non-operational USE

Applicable to: Primarily rural, but Urban areas too

School buildings are very expensive. In most schools, the school building is used for only the first half of the day. Rest of the day it stays closed. 

For optimum use of the resources, the building can be used during the second half of the day also, for evening and vocational classes. Just like the regular school which would run till afternoon, there could be an evening school running from 3pm to 8pm and then vocational classes from 8pm to 11pm for working youth (like delivery boys). Teachers will need to work in shifts. Many years back, Amity School, Noida (Delhi NCR), used to run an evening school for poor children in the same classrooms, while the regular school used to run till afternoon. May be, this still happens.
A part of the building may also be given for rent to others during evenings (may be for coaching classes or something else). Perhaps, the classrooms can be used as hostel rooms at night. Or villagers can use them as living quarters at night. Or some students may be able to use some classrooms during evenings to run small business activities like smartphone repair.

Here is a similar example to get inspired from:

BUSSES: non-operational USE

Applicable to: Primarily Rural, but Urban areas too

In most schools, busses are kept unused all day long and sometimes the driver's time is also not utilised properly. It is a good idea if the driver can take the bus around the village or the rural area along with a teacher for the purpose of spiritual education, rural development, women empowerment, drug de-addiction, or for some other cause. The bus could also be used for tinkering labs for scientific & experiential learning. On some days, bus could also be a mobile-library encouraging children to read books. This may happen during the school time or after the school is over. 

Depending on how the bus needs to be used during the day, the seating and the spacing between the seats may need to be readjusted or replaced. That is something to be explored. Even if no re-arrangement is possible, many of the ideas can still be implemented.

Here are some similar examples to get inspired from:


Applicable to: Rural area

Brick made beds and tables can be much cheaper than wooden or metal beds and tables for hostels. In classrooms also, there can be some brick-based seating arrangement along the walls for children to sit.

To save costs, a good majority of village schools in India use minimal furniture and children sit on a mat on the ground. It is cheaper than buying furniture, cheaper to maintain, easier to clean the classroom, and super easy to rearrange the classroom without the need of moving the bulky furniture. Children can even play simple activity-based games inside the classroom because of the available space.

Anyways, village children are used to sitting on the floor and are accustomed to much harsher conditions in their day-to-day lives at home.


Google, Microsoft, Canva, and balsamiq Grants

Google Workplace, Microsoft Business, and design tools like Canva and Balsamiq offer free software for non-profits.

Google Workplace and Microsoft Business offer a lot for free for nonprofits: 

Google Workplace for Nonprofits - Free

Official Link

Microsoft 365 Business Basic - Free for upto 300 users

Canva Premium for Nonprofits - Free

Canva is a popular tool for designing good quality graphics, primarily for social-media and web. Canva Premium is free for non-profits.

Balsamiq for Nonprofits - Free

Balsamiq is a popular tool used by UX experts for creating sketches or wireframes of websites or applications before the development begins. It can also be obtained for free by the non-profits.