Dabara’s Story: A Village Empowered

Most parents assume that if their kids are in school, they are learning. Parents in the village of Dabara discovered otherwise.

It happened in the fall of 2015, when Pratham launched a campaign to measure and improve children’s learning in 100,000 villages across India. We entered Dabara prepared to explain our campaign and garner support.

The campaign appeared to stop before it had even begun when the sarpanch (elected village official) refused to help, even after repeated requests.

Then a field hockey coach offered to assist us and even provided the grounds as a site for conducting classes. Word began to spread in the village, and soon we found ourselves with more volunteers. One of them, Mr. Chaudary, took it upon himself to mobilize the village and gather children for testing.

Pratham workers explained the two simple assessment tests to Dabara’s volunteers: one asks children to read letters, words, paragraphs and stories; the other presents number recognition and arithmetic. Test administrators record the highest level at which each child is capable.

Out of 118 children tested, 68 could not read a simple story and 63 could not solve basic math problems. When this “village report card” was posted publicly, parents were astonished. How could it be that their kids were not learning?

This simple action of testing empowered a village to take action. Dabara’s citizens agreed to try Pratham’s learning camps and innovative teaching methods. They were ready to change the quality of their children’s education.

Poor education is a community problem. By mobilizing local resources, Pratham works to find community solutions. We recruit local volunteers to help administer tests to the children. This method keeps costs low and makes learning visible to everyone. Learn more.

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