History

 
 
 

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. We began by setting up self-sustaining Balwadis (preschools) and providing remedial education “bridge” classes for primary school students who lagged behind.

We address India’s learning crisis and empower others.

Pratham’s efforts to determine why children in government schools were not learning led to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). For ten years, this user-friendly yet rigorous tool has assessed 600,000 rural children annually to quantify their learning, bringing to light the fact that nearly 50% of India’s fifth graders cannot read at a second-grade level. The data has given citizens a voice in pushing for education reform, and ASER has since become a quality metric used by nonprofits, governments and policymakers to assess and transform educational systems internationally.

In 2007, Pratham launched its flagship program, Read India, as a way to improve learning outcomes. This grassroots literacy intervention demonstrated that children’s learning can be improved in a relatively short timespan using a low-cost model that involves grouping children according to ability rather than age.

Relying on partnerships with governments, industry and community volunteers, we have broadened our scope over the years to encompass upper primary school children, female dropouts and young adults in need of vocational skills. A culture of measurement and regular third-party evaluation of our programs has led to effective implementation on a larger scale.

Our impact is global.

What started with a single preschool in the slums of Mumbai has evolved into a national network reaching 45 million children and youth through literacy and vocational programs in 20 Indian states, establishing Pratham as one of the top non-governmental organizations dedicated to fostering universal literacy.

But Pratham’s work doesn’t end at India’s borders. By sharing its knowledge and experience with other NGOs, Pratham continues to further the movement of citizen-led assessments internationally that it originated ten years ago through the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). Arguably Pratham’s most influential contribution to education policy, the ASER model has taken root in a dozen countries on three continents and reaches a million children across the globe annually.

Pratham has expanded to become a global presence in six other countries, including the US,  where we raise awareness and mobilize financial resources for our work in India. Our non-profit arm, Pratham USA, ranks among the top American charities, consistently earning a four-star ranking from Charity Navigator.

We are a recognized leader.

Our contributions to education have been internationally recognized with major accolades including the Asia Game Changer Award, the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, the WISE Prize for Education, the Henry R. Kravis Leadership Prize and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

 
2015-2016

Pratham's Lakhon Mein Ek campaign mobilizes 375,000 citizens. Over the course of three months, these volunteers assessed the literacy and numeracy levels of 10 million Indian children.

2015

Pratham announces leadership transition—Dr. Rukmini Banerji takes the reins as Pratham CEO from Dr. Madhav Chavan.

The People's Action of Learning (PAL) Network, comprised of organizations in thirteen countries conducting citizen-led, household-based assessment of children's basic reading and numeracy competencies, is established, with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

2012

Pratham pilots a successful teaching-learning model in two rural districts of Bihar, which eventually forms the basis for partnerships statewide in Bihar and five other Indian states.

2011

Pratham launches Second Chance program to lend support to girls and women, enabling them to complete their secondary schooling.

2010-2012

Pratham receives international recognition—2010 Henry R. Kravis Leadership Prize, 2011 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship and 2012 Wise Prize for Education.

2009

Pratham goes global with adoption of ASER tool in Pakistan and Kenya. Other countries, including Bangladesh, Ghana, Tanzania, Mali, Senegal and Mexico, follow suit.

2008

Pratham establishes the ASER Centre to generate evidence for action.

2007-2009

Read India campaign is launched. In partnership with state governments, Pratham reaches nearly 33 million children.

2005-2006

Vocational training classes are piloted in partnership with Larsen & Toubro.

2005

First ASER survey is conducted, eventually reaching every rural district in the country. Pratham becomes a national organization.

Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children leads a coalition of government and NGOs to eliminate child labor in Mumbai’s Zari industry, freeing over 17,000 children. This model will be used in other states in subsequent years.

2002

Pratham starts work in rural India with the innovative Learn-to-Read program.

1998-2000

Pratham scales up with rapid expansion to other cities including Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Pune, Ahmedabad and Patna. Pratham USA is founded in Houston and New York City.

1998

Remedial learning programs for out-of-school and in-school children are launched.

Computer-assisted learning program starts in partnership with Mumbai schools.

1994-1995

Pratham is founded by Dr. Madhav Chavan and Farida Lambay with launch of Balwadis (preschools) in Mumbai.