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 NGO Pratham takes the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Development Cooperation for providing quality education to millions of disadvantaged children in India

The jury underscored Pratham’s ability to address children’s varied baseline levels and needs in order to achieve effective learning both in and out of school.

The Pratham model has delivered quality education to tens of millions of disadvantaged children by coordinating voluntary and government efforts and evaluating the results

Madrid, February 25, 2014.- The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Development Cooperation category goes in this sixth edition to the NGO Pratham, which over twenty years has catered successfully to the learning needs of tens of millions of disadvantaged children. In doing so, it has designed and implemented new methods that accelerate reading acquisition, using a grassroots approach in which pupils are grouped by actual levels and needs instead of age, while providing specific training to the teachers and volunteers recruited to its programs.  

In the words of the jury’s citation, “Pratham has expanded the scope of education in resource constrained areas, from simple access to schooling to children’s actual learning. It has done so through two significant innovations: the creation of simple, accurate and reliable tools for communities to assess learning; and a process that uses scientific evidence to develop new cost-effective programs that drastically improve learning levels.”

Each year, Pratham’s programs reach three million children including one million reached directly in 20,000 municipalities (villages) and two million through government partnerships in 19 states. Another half a million are annually assessed by its Annual Status of Education Report. But in the view of director Madhav Chavan, providing education is just part of the story. For Pratham has equipped itself with innovative methodologies and strategies to get more people into the learning process, and a powerful voice whose influence on educational policy is felt not just in India but around the world, with particular resonance in Asian and African countries.

Its programs stand out for a grassroots approach that takes education into the community, the mobilization of volunteer trainers as well as government officials and the material and human resources of the national education system, and, finally, the use of ongoing monitoring and evaluation. The result is a battery of high-impact interventions which have been replicated by other countries and in other key development sectors such as healthcare.

According to UNESCO’s 2013/4 “Education for All” Global Monitoring Report, India is home to 37% of the world’s illiterate adults, with a total of 287 million unable to read or write. Yet the same sub-continent ranks second worldwide by its numbers of scientists and engineers. Madhav Chavan elaborates on this seeming contradiction: “Ten percent of the Indian population receives a good education, and as we are the world’s second most populous country, that means a lot of highly trained people. But without a robust primary education system that extends into every area, India cannot unite the human resources it needs to lift its economy. In India today there is an emerging economy that employs from 30% to 40% of the population, side by side with an underdeveloped economy that employs between 50% and 60%. This is a serious breach and also a store of future problems.”

Twenty years’ experience

Pratham was established as a Public Charitable Trust in 1994 by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, UNICEF and several of the country’s prominent citizens. It started out providing pre-school education to the children of the Mumbai slums, where temples, offices and private homes were mobilized for use. Volunteers were recruited, trained, equipped with learning material, and encouraged to set up classes in any available space within the community. Soon this program, known as Pratham Balwadis, was being replicated in multiple locations.

A few years later, the organization created the Balshaki program aimed at remedial education of in-school children who lag behind in basic literacy numeracy. It started an urban bridge school program for out-of-school children, whom it sought to bring to a minimum learning level before mainstreaming them into schools. Between 1999 and 2001, Pratham expanded its operations to nineteen cities and began an outreach program dealing with child labor.

Pratham firmly believes in working with state and local governments to bring about change. Its volunteer programs aim to supplement and not supplant the work of teachers in the public school system, while its organization rests on a partnership between government, the corporate sector and citizens. In many cities, corporate leaders have taken the lead, the government has responded by opening its schools and sharing its facilities, and community volunteers, mostly young women from the slums, have helped implement the programs.

The organization’s strategy ensures that its educational improvement activities reach even the country’s remotest and most violence-stricken areas. The models applied are deliberately low-cost so that they can be deployed anywhere and scaled up to achieve maximum impact.

Pratham subjects its programs to close and continual assessment. An effort which led it to make two major changes in 2002-2003. The first was a delivery strategy based on areas or bastis, whereby communities of approximately 250 to 300 households (about 250 children) are earmarked for intervention. This creates a situation where the only way a child can drop out is if he or she migrates elsewhere, avoiding the kind of scattergun approach that undermines efficiency. As we write, Pratham is working with about 300,000 children in 32 cities.

The second was the launch of Learn to Read program with an accelerated technique that can demonstrably boost the learning levels of 84% of children in less than 8 weeks. Classes were given by volunteers, making for a low-cost solution that is also replicable on a national scale.

Chavan says that one thing experience has taught him is that it is the simplest things that work best: “What doesn’t work is to pursue multiple goals at the same time. It’s important to concentrate on Reading, writing, and numeracy. When you achieve that critical goal, then you can move on to other things.”

Another lesson was that trying to teach children of the same age but different levels is an obstacle to progress. Pratham accordingly groups them by their actual learning level so no child gets left behind. Asked about pupil motivation, Chavan responds without hesitation: “When children start to learn, they realize they are capable and can do better. And that is a very powerful motivation to stay in the program.”

Evidence-based assessment

India has long kept official school enrollment data, but has lacked reliable means to measure the quality of education. It was to fill this gap that Pratham published its first Annual Status of Education Report in 2004 (known as ASER or “impact” in Hindi- Urdu). As Chavan explains, “the government had just created a new tax to fund education, and we thought citizens deserved to know if their money was being used effectively and efficiently.”

The report draws its material from surveys conducted by 30,000 volunteers between the months of October and November, evaluating about 600,000 children in 16,000 households nationwide. The results are presented the following January and provide an accurate, standardized assessment of the learning levels of the country’s children. The first report, published in 2005, revealed that only 15% of children in primary grade 2 and 25% in grade 3 could read a grade 1 text, while only 17% and 32% of grade 2 and 3 pupils respectively were able to perform subtraction problems. And ASER 2006 only bore out these initial findings.

It was the sobering results of these reports that led Pratham to launch its Read India campaign in January 2007, aimed at helping all Indian children aged 6 to 14 to learn to read, write, and do basic arithmetic.

The campaign rolled out in 350 of India’s 600 districts across 19 states, with the aid of thousands of volunteers and public schools. In 2008, the year of a drive organized with some state government, it reached 33 million of the country’s 350 million children, thanks to the mobilization of over 350,000 volunteers and the training of 400,000 teachers and government officials. In most states where Read India was implemented in partnership with governments, there was a significant improvement in children’s learning levels.

With time, Pratham has expanded both geographically and in terms of the work it undertakes. A vocational training program seeks to help students find employment. The Pratham Institute for Literacy, Education and Vocational Training offers training to young people who may have been forced to leave school for family or financial reasons. To date, 12,000 students have taken part in its hospitality, construction, automotive and dependent care courses, while other modules focus on the essential skills needed to start a business or to find work in services ranging from retail to banking and insurance. Pratham Infotech, finally, has as its mission to help bridge the digital divide and facilitate take-up of information technologies in education.

Major challenges remain. The ASER 2013 report shows that although between 95% and 98% of children aged 7 to 14 are enrolled in school education; fewer than half of primary grade 5 children in rural India are capable of reading a grade 2 text. Only 40% of grade 3 pupils can read a simple paragraph without difficulty and fewer than 25% can solve problems involving simple subtraction. In primary grade 5, only a fourth of the sample can perform three digits by one digit division. And the proportion of children in grades 1 to 3 in government primary schools who can recognize the letters of the alphabet barely reaches 40%.

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards

The BBVA Foundation promotes funds and disseminates world-class scientific research and artistic creation, in the conviction that science, culture and knowledge in its broadest sense hold the key to a better future for people. The Foundation designs and implements its programs in partnership with leading scientific and cultural organizations in Spain and abroad, seeking to identify and prioritize those projects with the power to move forward the frontiers of the known world.

The BBVA Foundation established its Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in 2008 to recognize the authors of outstanding contributions and radical advances in a broad range of scientific and technological areas congruent with the knowledge map of the late 20th and 21st centuries, and others that address central challenges, such as climate change and development cooperation, deserving of greater visibility and recognition. Their eight categories include classical areas like Basic Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics) and Biomedicine, and other, more recent areas characteristic of our time, ranging from Information and Communication Technologies, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Climate Changeand Economics, Finance and Management to Development Cooperation and the innovative creative realm that is Contemporary Music.

The juries in each category are made up of leading international experts in their respective fields, whose involvement endorses the rigor of the awards and has indeed been instrumental in consolidating their prestige. The BBVA Foundation is aided in the organization of the awards by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the country’s premier multidisciplinary research organization. As well as proposing each jury chair, the CSIC is responsible for appointing the Technical Evaluation Committees that undertake an initial assessment of candidates and draw up a reasoned shortlist for the consideration of the juries.

In the Development Cooperation category, Committee members were Pedro A. Serena, a professor in the Department of Theory and Simulation of Materials at the Instituto de Ciencias de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM); Carlos García-Izquierdo, coordinator of the Council’s Agricultural Sciences Area and Research Professor in the Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC); and Francisco A. Tomás Barberán, coordinator of Food Science and Technology Area and Research Professor in the Group on Quality, Safety and Bioactivity of Plant Foods at the Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC).

International jury

The jury in this category was chaired by Pedro Alonso, Director of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Barcelona Center for International Health Research (CRESIB), with José García Montalvo, Professor of Economics at Pompeu Fabra University and Research Professor at the Valencian Institute of Economic Research (Ivie), acting as secretary. Remaining members were Vicente Larraga, Research Professor in the Center for Biological Research of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC); Norman Loayza, Lead Economist in the Development Research Group of the World Bank in Washington (United States); and Francisco Pérez, Professor of Economic Analysis at the University of Valencia and Research Director of the Valencian Institute of Economic Research (Ivie).

Previous laureates

Last year’s winner in this category was the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) for “developing and delivering new, effective and affordable treatments for poverty related diseases including Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, malaria and leishmaniasis affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations.” The award in the fourth edition went to Ciro de Quadros for “leading the efforts to eliminate polio and measles from the western hemisphere and being one of the most important scientists in the eradication of smallpox around the world,” in the words of the award citation. Preceding them were theInternational Rice Research Institute (IRRI) (The Philippines) for helping to “reduce poverty and hunger in the world by means of rice research and farmer training,” and the Development Research Institute (DRI) at New York University (United States) for “its contribution to the analysis of foreign aid provision, and its challenge to the conventional wisdom in development assistance.” Finally, the inaugural award went to the Poverty Action Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (United States) for “promoting the use of scientific methods to assess the effectiveness of development assistance funding.”

Alex Monk
Marketing & Communications Manager
Pratham UK
020 7368 3396

Vision India is a subscription based service for corporates and individuals which enables you to network at close quarters with some of the most prominent figures from India Inc.  Vision India in its first year has already featured sell-out evenings with Anshu Jain (Co-CEO of Deustche Bank), Rakesh Kapoor, (CEO of Reckitt Benckiser) and a wine tasting evening with a top London sommelier.



‘An event I am delighted to have been a part of.’

Rakesh Kapoor, C.E.O. Reckitt Benckiser

Individual membership: Recommended donation £200 

--Opportunity  to  network at close quarters with some of the most prominent figures from India Inc. & engage with likeminded professionals.

--Tax relief on your charitable contribution.

--Talks & Debates by Key Note Speakers on a broad spectrum of topics from a diverse range of industries including financial services, energy, international development, the environment, fashion and the arts.

2014 promises to continue the success of Vision India with more networking events. This year we are excited to announce keynote addresses by Vindi Banga (31st March), Lord Bilimoria (19th June) and an art related evening featuring an address by a top curator also planned for the summer. Events are always held at an attractive central London venue and include full, complimentary  refreshments. 


Vindi Banga 

Corporate membership: Recommended donation £1000

--Chance to support largest education NGO in India and connect with London’s business elite. 

--Send five employees of your choice to any Vision India event.

--Your company logo featured on the Pratham UK website. 

--Company mention in the Pratham UK gala programme 2014. 

--Visits to Pratham centres in India see the value of your donation.





 Hi guys we are now recruiting for the London 10k (July 13th) and Dorney Supersprint Triathlon (24th May). If you are interested in joining in for a great cause drop us a line: 


You can see the amazing memorabilia on offer tonight which includes a huge selection of vintage vinyl and Bollywood posters! 


Preview Date: 14 - 15th - 28th November 2013.

Auction Date: 29th November  

Location: Westbury Gallery, Westbury Hotel, Conduit St. Mayfair. London.

Celebrating 100 years of Bollywood, Conferro Auctions is hosting a special preview of its upcoming inaugural auction of Vintage Bollywood Memorabilia. 
The auction features collectables such as LPs, film banners and Bollywood posters from some of the milestones of Indian film history, including Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Sholay (1975), which were recently voted the top two greatest Bollywood films of all time. The 150 lots include vintage LPs, banners, synopses, posters, lobby cards and gramophones from the last 100 years of Bollywood history, which will be auctioned on 29 November.

 With over seventy million of the population in India still illiterate and an equal number living below the poverty line, investing in education has never been more important. Sign up for direct debit today! 

To support our work on the ground and to ensure it is sustainable the best way to support our education programmes is by Direct Debit.  Follow the very easy steps here and you can change a young person's life today.  

Here are some examples of how regular donations can have a massive impact on someone's life:

> £5 a month rescues a rag picker/street child and provides educational rehabilitation through drop-in centers for 1 year.
> £10 a month you can maintain a young woman's education help 10 children to read for one year.
>£50 a month keeps three young women in education for one year and help 60 village children to read for one year.
> £100 a month  keeps funds a vocational training centre in India that will reach out to 240 students annually.
Should you have any problems setting up your direct debit please ensure you pop up blocker is disabled. Also do not hesitate to get in touch as we are in the office to help you: or 0207 368 3396.
Best wishes
Pratham UK team.


 India’s Ace Designer Manish Malhotra to commemorate 100 Years of Indian Cinema at the London Pratham ARTiculate Ball

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Celebrity designer Manish Malhotra is set to captivate London audiences with a special collection at the most extravagant celebration of 100 years of Indian Cinema in London in aid of Pratham, India’s largest education NGO working to improve learning levels amongst underprivileged children.  The event is set to be a star-studded affair with a host of Bollywood and international celebrities in attendance. A number of Bollywood celebrities are expected to be walking the ramp for Manishs’ special show at the Pratham gala event.


Guests will experience a unique collection which is inspired by the three main eras of fashion in Indian Cinema, spanning from 1913 to 2013.  They will be taken on a journey of mesmeric panache and distinctive style from every iconic period in Indian cinema including   a black & white, colour and a pattern era.

Starting his career as a costume designer for films, Bollywood gave Malhotra a creative platform to revolutionise the Indian fashion industry.  He has dressed the crème-de -la-crème of Indian celebrities and his reputation also extends beyond the subcontinent with International celebrities including Demi Moore, Kylie Minogue, Reese Witherspoon, Karolina Kurkova, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell counting him as one of their favourite designers.


On lending his support to Pratham Malhotra said:  “I am glad to be associated with Pratham, which helps educate underprivileged children in India, a cause which means a lot to me. September is the start of the Indian festive season and I’m excited to celebrate it in London with my ‘100 years of Indian Cinema’ fashion show. Indian Cinema and fashion are both very close to my heart, my journey as a costume designer to a couturier during the last 23 years has been an emotional experience and I’m happy to be sharing it on an International stage”.


Proceeds from ticket sales and an exclusive live auction will go towards the Pratham Institute which focuses on providing young people with the employability skills needed to address India’s growing need for skilled manpower. Between now and 2025, about 250 million young people are estimated to enter the Indian workforce, while only 5% of them aged 20-24 have obtained vocational skills through a formal training system.


Roy Martins, Board Director of Pratham UK said “Manish is an inspiring individual who has achieved success through sheer determination. We welcome his support and hope that his success will inspire the young minds that Pratham aim to ignite through the funds raised at this event”.


To book your tables for the event contact:

Pratham UK - 020 7368 3396/ or

To read more about the cause -



We are delighted to launch our Vision India donors club! 

Are you a busy professional? Do you share Pratham’s vision for young people in India? Do you want to contribute but are not sure how?


Become a Vision India donor today.  For just £200 as a one-time annual donation you can join this exclusive club of Pratham donors and contribute to the welfare and education of underprivileged  children in India.This is your chance to make a difference!  

As a Vision India Donor you will get priority invitations to a rich mix of events which include:

  • Talks & Debates by Key Note Speakers on a broad spectrum of topics from a diverse range of industries including financial services, energy, international development, the environment, fashion and the arts.
  • Art and Culture: auctions, concerts,book launches.
  • Entertainment and networking: celebrity shows, wine-tasting evenings.

There will be 4-6 such events organised by Pratham every year. Our first session is on the 14th February with Anshu Jain, Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank who will be speaking to the best and brightest on financial markets, followed by Q & A, drinks and networking. 

 Anshu Jain, Co-CEO, Deutsche Bank  

Book now!
There are just a few  tickets left for this exclusive session and you can book your place now by making just a £50 donation for this event or £200 for the full membership.
 If you are concerned about missing that romantic Valentines meal with a loved one, don't worry as there is plenty of time for dinner afterwards as the event will be finished by 8.30 p.m.!  Sign up today! 
 Your Donor Privileges
  • Opportunity to network at close quarters with some of the most prominent figures from India Inc & engage with like minded professionals.
  • Receive an exclusive quarterly progress report on Pratham’s work on the ground. This is accompanied by an account of how donor contributions are being deployed to improve state education in India and ensuring that every child is in school and learning well.
  • Tax relief on your charitable contribution 
  • Personalized walking tours of Pratham schools on your next trip to India. A great opportunity to see the difference your contribution is making.

Sign up today! 




The Annual Status of Education Report, ASER 2012 was released in New Delhi yesterday by the Honourable Minister of Human Resource Development, Dr. M. M. Pallam Raju.  This is the eighth annual report. 

ASER is the largest annual household survey of children in rural India that focuses on the status of schooling and basic learning.  Facilitated by Pratham, in each rural district ASER is conducted by local organizations, institutions and concerned citizens. ASER 2012 reached 567 districts, more than 16,000 villages, nearly 3.3 lac households and about 6 lac children in the age 3-16.

Every year, ASER finds out whether children in rural India go to school, whether they can read simple text and whether they can do basic arithmetic. Since 2009, ASER has also included a visit to one government school in each sampled village. Since the implementation of the RTE Act in 2010, school visits in ASER have included indicators of compliance with those norms and standards specified in the Right to Education Act that are easy to measure. In 2012, ASER visited almost 14,600 government schools.

Watch a video of the key findings 

Read the full report 


We would like to thank the fantastic 46 donors who contributed to our From Street to School programme. This was our Gateway Challenge to get a permanent feature on the Global Giving site, which thanks to you we achieved by exceeding the 5k target.



We are delighted to announce that Dr Madhav Chavan has been awarded the education 'Nobel Prize' for Pratham's work in reaching millions of children in India.

Dr Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani said the award winner had "brought light into the lives of many millions of people".

"His story combines the passion of a social entrepreneur with the patience and method of a scientist. His approach shows that the most important resources for successful innovation are a clear vision, determination and the ability to apply unrecognised capacities to a shared cause."

Read more on the BBC news website 


FIRST LOVE at Pratham UK

For International Literacy Day we are celebrating the joy that reading can inspire in all of us and the impact the book we first fall in love with can have on the rest of our lives.

What was your first literary love? The first book that enchanted you, took over your senses and led you in to new realms and the depths of your imagination? We'd love to hear your stories!

On September 7th, the eve of International Literacy Day, we will be posting our top five findings and also we'll also feature your stories on the Pratham Aces blog

So, all we ask is for you to send us 50 to 100 words on the book that you first fell in love with and why.

Please send your entry with the subject header First Love to 

For Twitter tell your friends by using the hashtag #firstlove.



Deadline: Friday, 31st August.



 We're delighted to announce Pratham Aces, our new scheme for volunteers. Pratham Aces are our UK volunteers that are willing to donate their time or skills to further the charitable work of Pratham UK.

There are plenty of Pratham Aces out there already organizing events, encouraging their friends and colleagues to make direct donations or simply spreading the word about how Pratham wants to improve the quality of state education in India. Aces let people know about the fantastic work they are doing and also encourage new people to join who are sympathetic to the cause of ensuring young people not only go to school but also receive a quality education that serves all and not just the privileged few. This enables Pratham to increase the its global supporter base and raise vital funds for its programmes in India.
Pratham Aces.
You can find out more by downloading an info pack here and reading our brand new Aces blog which provides a space for Pratham's volunteers to document their experience of Pratham. 
And to get involved in the discussion come over and join our Facebook group! 

Roy Martins, who earlier this month was named in the FN100 ranking of the most influential people in European finance, was nominated to carry the torch because of his work with Pratham UK, where he is chairman.

Pratham was started in Mumbai by UNICEF and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai in 1994 with the maxim "every child in school and learning well". Since then, it has helped educate 34 million children in India.

Martins, who is also a member of the European equities management committee at Credit Suisse, joined the bank in May 2007 after 12 years at Morgan Stanley. Since he has been at Credit Suisse the Swiss bank has continued to increase its market share in European prime brokerage and has been the top European prime broker by assets since the end of 2009.

Source: Financial news

 Bollywood Superstar Kajol met with children at a Pratham primary school last week in Hanuman Basti, India to make a short film about education and literacy in India. The exclusive film is to be shown at the Pratham UK gala in the autumn where the star will be the guest of honour.   

 “I believe that literacy is the way forward for India and children are our future.’’says Kajol.

 Kajol holds the record for the most Best Actress wins at the Filmfare awards has pledged her support to Pratham by becoming its brand ambassador for the year.

 Through its ‘Read India’ programme, Pratham has already helped a staggering 35 million children to read all over the country.

 ‘‘I just love to read’’ said the star ‘‘It helps me through the bad moments in my life. I was at boarding school for 5 years and that’s where my love of reading began. We had a fabulous library and I was the one who took out all the books!’’

The Pratham school children could not contain their excitement as the Bollywood icon signed autographs. Though we must say she seemed equally pleased to spend time with her budding young co-stars:

 ‘‘I loved it.’’ beamed Kajol.‘‘I love kids on the whole most of the time. I think they were just amazing, honest and wonderful - they were not spoilt, they are just kids. It has been wonderful today. I can’t explain it any better than that.’’

The Pratham gala is to be held on October 5th 2012 where the short film about education and literacy in India will be premiered.  Tickets to the gala are limited and are available by e-mailing

We are happy to announce that Bollywood super star Kajol is to be Pratham's brand ambassador for 2012! Kajol is best known for films such as 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayeng' and  Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'.  

Kajol will also be guest of honor at this year's Pratham Gala in October.



Pratham are delighted to be included in the list which includes NGO's doing amazing work in a cross section of thematic areas.

This is from the Global Journal website: 

Recognizing the significant role of NGOs as influential agents of change on a global scale, The Global Journal has sought to move beyond outdated clichés and narrow conceptions about what an NGO is and does. From humanitarian relief to the environment, public health to education, microfinance to intellectual property, NGOs are increasingly at the forefront of developments shaping the lives of millions of people around the world.

Read more about the list on The Global Journal 

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