Literacy and Learning
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 58 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 programmes, which include:
- Read India Our flagship programme develops basic reading, writing and numeracy skills in children ages 6-14 through fun, hands-on activities that have been shown to improve learning drastically.
- Early Childhood Education We provide universal preschool 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 Programme 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 We integrate digital learning options into school curriculums and offer high-quality, interactive content to improve children's basic literacy and numeracy skills, support their subject-specific competencies, and promote their ability to think critically and work collaboratively.
We build communities, not schools.
Utilising local volunteers and resources to integrate our methods both inside and outside the classroom, Pratham has developed a vast network across the country. Our programmes 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 programmes now operate in 23 cities and 21 of India's 29 states.
Pratham collaborates with state and local governments to test programmes and create standards, often fine-tuning programmes to cater to a region’s specific needs. We remain involved from the design phase through implementation, including training, monitoring and support.
In 2017, Pratham methodologies were taught to 250,000 educators in 15 states through partnerships with state governments. And in 2016, Pratham trained 4,000 teacher trainees in five states through a yearlong collaboration with India’s teacher training network These trainees reached close to 70,000 children in over 1,200 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 randomised control trials six times in the last ten years. They have found our approach 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 programmes through active 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 programmes 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 recognise 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 recognise two (or more) digit numbers and 78% could complete a basic arithmetic operation, compared to 46% and 41% respectively prior to the Pratham camps.
TRANSFORMING LEARNING THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
Pratham has been exploring how technology can augment our existing programmes, help children sustain the progress they’ve made and enable students to become learners outside of school.
Two major grants from the Sarva Mangal Family Trust and Google.org have allowed us to experiment with the use of tablet technology as a means to overcome the lack of connectivity in large sections of rural India.
Using continuous data analysis to determine what content is relevant and engaging, our goal is to develop a viable student-focused model which can accompany more traditional teacher-centric approaches with the intention of scaling the methodologies across India’s rural school system.
Last year, 13,500 tablets with preloaded Pratham content were distributed in communities across India through our edtech initiative, PraDigi. A companion app, freely downloadable in 11 Indian languages, further increases access to quality education.
We make it easy for you to help.
Pratham’s low-cost programmes make it easy to transform the life of a child. £20 educates one child for a full year. Donate and make a difference.