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Established in 1995 in the slums of Mumbai, Pratham Education Foundation has grown to become one of the largest and most successful non-governmental organizations in India. Pratham means 'first' in Sanskrit and true to its name, is the first major organisation to achieve lasting, wide-scale success in India's educational landscape.
India has achieved close to universal enrolment for children in the 6 to 14 age group. But now that children are in school, the critical question facing the country is – are children learning?
Ten years of data from Pratham’s 'Annual Status of Education Report' (ASER) points to the fact that at every grade, learning levels are unacceptably low. The scale is enormous, with census 2011 figures indicating that for each single year age group, there are roughly 25 million children; at least half of whom are several grade levels behind where they are expected to be.
It is in such a context that Pratham has developed high-quality, low-cost, replicable interventions for children across a variety of different age groups. Its programs have generally provided a very visible and dynamic demonstration of how impact can be made in a short period of time without a huge amount of resources and are spread in a total of 21 states acrosss the country. Based on common principles of work, some of its leading programs are mentioned as follows:
Through Pratham's Early Childhood Education programs, the aim is to build a sound foundation in the pre-school years of a child's life so that he/she develops a proper base for future growth and development. In 2016-17, these early years interventions reached over 86,000 children directly or in partnership with governments.
Read India is Pratham's flagship program to stregthen basics of literacy and numeracy of children through innovative teaching learning techniques. As part of the program, children are assessed using simple tools - and are then grouped according to learning level rather than age or grade. Over the years, Pratham has scaled this approach to about 5 million children a year in India, both directly and in partnership with governments - and has as a consequence reached about 50 million children till date.
In August 2017, Pratham launched its latest initiative - PraDigi. As part of this unique digital initiative, an app was launched on google play store with learning content in 11 Indian Languages. In addition to the app, Pratham has also created videos for children. The organization now plans to share all these free resources widely across the country and encourage governments, organisations, institutions and NGOs to help schools, communities and families to use digital content. At the time of writing, nearly 12,000 tablets have been distributed in abour 21 states across the country - where they will be used in approximately 7,000 villages and urban areas over the next twelve months. Unlike most other digital educational initiatives that are usually in schools, PraDigi will be implemented in homes and communities where mothers will be custodians of tablets.
Through the Second Chance program, the aim to reach out to drop-outs (particularly girls) and provide them with another chance at completing their edcutation. This intervention focuses on completion of Grade 10, in the hope that this academic certification will open up opportunities to either study further or to be eligible for employment. Over the years, close to 18,000 students have benefited from Pratham's Second Chance program with the number of students appearing for Grade 10 board examinations till date being 11,134. Overall, the pass percentage of students is 75%.
Pratham Institute (PI) is the vocational training arm of Pratham and works with rural and semi-urban unemployed and underemployed youth to provide them with the employability skills needed to address India’s need for skilled manpower. Over the years, PI has helped nearly 100,000 youth across the country in improving their general employability skills and more than 50,000 youth in industry-specific trades.