• Awarded: 2011
  • Issue Areas: Early Childhood to Primary Education · Education
  • Region: Central and Southern Asia
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Pratham is an innovative learning organization created to improve the quality of education in India. As one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the country, Pratham focuses on high-quality, low-cost, and replicable interventions to address gaps in the education system.

    Established in 1995 to provide education to children in the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown both in scope and geographical coverage. Pratham means “first” in Sanskrit. True to its name, it is the first major organization to achieve lasting, large-scale success in India’s educational landscape.

    Pratham works in collaboration with the government, local communities, parents, teachers, volunteers, and civil society members. They seek not only reach as many children as possible, but also to create a replicable model for state governments.

    Pratham’s strategies reconfigure teaching methodologies, break down traditional tactics, and challenge the rote learning mechanisms used in Indian schools.

    In its early years Pratham developed innovative teaching-learning methods, materials, and measurement techniques. In 2005, they pioneered a nationwide school survey that has had a major impact on national and international policy discussions.

    Half of India's village children cannot read or understand mathematics at a level appropriate to their age and grade.

    Pratham offers teaching tools, “learning camps,” and educational policy reform building on its Annual Status of Education Report.

    Madhav Chavan envisions an India where all children love learning and receive a quality education.

    Pratham maintains an active presence in 17 states and 28,000 villages.

    Ambition for Change

    Every underprivileged child in India between the ages of 6 and 14 experiences love of learning and receives a quality education.

    Path to Scale

    Demonstration and Policy Reform
    States and school districts adopt literacy and numeracy targets, make teaching and learning tools available, support parent and volunteer engagement.

    Business Model

    Simple teaching tools and materials that teachers, parents, and volunteers can use to read and learn numbers with village children; policy advocacy and supporting data.

    Dr. Madhav Chavan founded Pratham in 1993, responding to a Unicef challenge to universalize primary education in India. Pratham developed teaching tools and materials for villages and “learning camps,” working with state governments to reform educational policy and make the tools available to every school system, and carrying out a national Annual Status of Education Report to measure children’s literacy and numeracy skills. At the height of its Read India campaign, Pratham reached half of India’s villages, working with more than 33 million children in 21 states (17 percent of the school age population). In most states, all children in the program learned their alphabets, and the number able to read was up by 20 percent.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Pratham is India’s largest nongovernmental organization working in education, and even since the completion of the Read India campaign, maintains an active presence in 17 states and 28,000 villages. .
    • The Annual Status of Education Report surveys 600,000 children annually
    • During the 2012-2013 school year:
      • Pratham recruited and trained 65,000 volunteers and trained 61,000 teachers
      • 100,000 children borrowed books from Pratham libraries
      • 120,000 children gained computer skills at 431 centers in 8 states
      • 4,000 child laborers and street children were rescued, sheltered, and educated


    Madhav ChavanCo-Founder and CEO, Pratham
    Rukmini BanerjiDirector, ASER Centre, Pratham

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