Access to quality education is one of the main ways people can escape a life of poverty, and, for 20 years, Pratham has worked toward this by improving literacy and learning among India’s underserved children… with a lot of help along the way from our colleagues at J-PAL.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), founded at the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is today a network of 131 professors from 40+ universities. J-PAL also has the mission of reducing poverty, and they do it by using rigorous scientific evaluation to assess programs and advise policy changes worldwide.

Since 2001, Pratham has partnered with J-PAL researchers to focus on techniques that improve learning while evaluating several of Pratham’s programs including our learning camps, remedial education classes (balsakhi) and our flagship literacy program, Read India. Over a decade of research and interventions, we implemented methodologies that were considered unusual in India’s educational system. These include: setting up reasonable goals for students, tailoring focused instruction instead of following the rigid national curriculum, and grouping children according to learning level rather than age.

Regular evaluations by J-PAL have shown such techniques—combined with pre-program assessments and level-appropriate teaching materials—to be a compelling method of raising test scores and improving learning outcomes.

The effectiveness of “Teaching at the Right Level” (TaRL) has allowed Pratham to scale up our programs throughout India. We recently entered a three-year partnership with J-PAL and the government of Andhra Pradesh to implement TaRL across the state in 1,600 government schools. Together, we will re-imagine learning for 56,000 students in grades three, four and five, so that these children can write their own future.