Literacy and Learning

 
1 in 5 people in India,
including 100 million children,
cannot read or write.
 
Of the 26 million Indian children who enter first grade each year, half of them will reach fifth grade unable to read or write.
 

PRATHAM’S SOLUTION:

We re-imagine learning so children can write their own future.
By improving the quality of education provided to Indian children at the primary and middle school levels, Pratham creates a strong foundation for future learning and success. Children learn cooperatively through our innovative techniques of stimulating materials and enrichment activities. We also make education a community effort by engaging parents, teachers, local volunteers and government to ensure that every child is not only in school but actually learning.

Since our inception in 1995, we have reached more than 45 million children and youth. Rigorous monitoring and third-party evaluation measure our levels of success while keeping us current and effective.
 

Program evaluation shows that after only six to eight weeks of instruction in a Pratham learning camp, close to 80% of children become readers and are able to confidently do basic arithmetic.
 

HOW DO WE DO THIS?

We teach children at their level.
Pratham has innovated a low-cost model that involves grouping children according to their ability rather than their age—a radical departure from India’s traditional classrooms. After an initial assessment, students are grouped by proficiency into learning camps, which allows every child to grasp the fundamentals before moving on to the next level.

Our Combined Activities for Maximized Learning (CAMaL) methodology incorporates listening, speaking, reading and writing into activity-based lessons. A typical camp is held during school hours using simple tools, stories and group discussions where students are continually encouraged to move beyond rote learning.
 

We fill in the gaps in India's educational system.
Pratham reaches children ages 3-14 in urban slums and remote rural areas of India through our literacy and learning programs, which include:

 
  • Read India Our flagship program develops basic reading, writing and numeracy skills in children ages 6-14 through fun, hands-on activities that have been shown to drastically improve learning.
  • Early Childhood Education We provide universal pre-school access for toddlers.
  • Libraries We offer communities access to books and educational materials, with a goal of promoting a culture of reading and learning across India.
  • Science Program We stimulate scientific curiosity in middle schoolers through the practical application of theory. Teachers and children perform experiments at science fairs and in clubs and workshops.
  • Technology Initiatives Through partnerships, we integrate digital learning options into school curriculums and are experimenting with tablet-based solutions to deliver open source educational content.
 

We build communities, not schools.
Utilizing local volunteers and resources to integrate our methods both inside and outside the classroom, Pratham has developed a vast network across the country. Our programs are low-cost, replicable and easily carried out by Pratham-trained teachers. Once a method has proven successful, we work to scale the model for use in larger settings—our programs now operate in 20 of India's 29 states.

Pratham collaborates with state and local governments to test programs and create standards, often fine-tuning programs to cater to a region’s specific needs. We remain involved from the design phase through implementation, including training, monitoring and support.

In 2015,  Pratham methodologies were taught to 6,000 teacher trainees in 13 states through a yearlong collaboration with India’s teacher training network These trainees reached close to 50,000 children in over 1,000 government primary schools.
 

Many of our teachers are young women who find their own lives transformed after they start working for Pratham.
 

IS IT WORKING?

Our teaching methods are proven.
Pratham’s “Teaching at the Right Level” (TaRL) strategy has been evaluated by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, an outgrowth of MIT's Department of Economics, through randomized control trials and is found to be effective in both Pratham teacher-led classrooms and learning camps staffed by trained community volunteers or government teachers.

India’s failing schools are partly the result of a system that does not set learning goals or test students. We assess the outcomes of our literacy programs through strong in-house measurement, monitoring and evaluation (MME) structures. Pratham staff members track students’ attendance and progress before, during and after the learning camps, while an MME unit evaluates that data.
 

Our programs yield results.
Our learning interventions demonstrate that quick improvement is possible. After 100 hours of instruction in a Pratham learning camp, we saw a 50% increase in children’s reading levels and a 45% increase in their ability to recognize two- and three-digit numbers.

Of the 346,000 children nationally who participated in Pratham learning camps during the 2015-2016 school year, the percentage who could read increased from 19% to 79%. Similar increases were achieved in math: 88% could recognize two (or more) digit numbers and 78% could complete a basic arithmetic operation, compared to 46% and 41% respectively prior to the Pratham camps.
 

After attending a Pratham learning camp, formerly uninspired student Aiyaz now reads fluently, invents his own stories, and eagerly participates in discussions.
 

We make it easy for you to help.
Pratham’s low-cost programs make it easy to transform the life of a child. $25 educates one child for a full year. Donate and make a difference.