Who We Are
Established in 1995 to provide education to children in Mumbai slums, Pratham (which means “first” in Sanskrit) is now one of the largest and most successful non-governmental education organizations in India.
Working in collaboration with governments, communities, parents, teachers and volunteers, we focus on innovative interventions to address gaps in the education system. The clarity of our mission—“every child in school and learning well”—drives our focus to make an impact on the lives of India’s children and extends from our leadership to our volunteers in the field.
Pratham USA is a volunteer-driven organization with 14 chapters across the United States that raise awareness and mobilize financial resources for our work on the ground.
What We Do
Develop Innovative Programs – Pratham uses outcome-driven programs that reconfigure teaching methodologies and challenge ineffective learning mechanisms. Our strategies focus on results, accountability and continuous learning and improvement.
Build Scalable Models – Pratham’s low-cost learning models are rigorously tested and evaluated so they can be easily replicated on a larger scale to provide quality education to every child.
Advocate Change – Pratham’s willingness to take risks, adapt to changing circumstances and look beyond our own programs gives us the leverage to create broader change. We amplify our impact by freely sharing information with other nonprofits and using our findings to advocate for large-scale policy changes.
Inspire Action – We engage parents, teachers and government to make learning a community effort. Local volunteers are vetted, trained and monitored to help implement learning interventions at the grassroots level using Pratham’s high-quality teaching materials.
Where We Work
With operations in 20 of India’s 29 states, Pratham reaches millions of children and youth each year from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. In addition, our methods have spread beyond India’s borders through ASER, which has inspired parallel citizen-led assessments of children’s learning in a dozen countries.
“ASER is more than a survey. By making children’s learning visible to parents, teachers and policymakers, it has become a mobilizing force for better-quality education. It has helped to turn the government’s focus beyond enrollment, toward learning. And Pratham is not just diagnosing the problem. It is also introducing simple methods that teach children basic skills. Because of ASER, communities and now states are adopting these methods in learning camps and during the school day.”
— Tina Rosenberg in The New York Times on Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)
Universal literacy has always been our first and foremost goal.
Pratham was founded on the belief that every child has the right to a quality education. In 1994, with support from UNICEF and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Dr. Madhav Chavan and Farida Lambay set out to end the vicious cycle of poverty by transforming the educational landscape in the slums of Mumbai. They began by setting up self-sustaining Balwadis (preschools) and providing remedial education “bridge” classes for primary school students who lagged behind.
— Farida Lambay, Pratham co-founder