Pratham’s Prem Yadav - Brings Home Pride
Mr Prem Chand Yadav, a former Pratham employee and Director Sanchar InfoTech Pvt. Ltd. was awarded with the Civic Leadership Award by the City of St. Louis, as a token of appreciation for his leadership and participation in the Eisenhower Fellowship Program. Yadav was also designated an Honorary Citizen of the City of St. Louis.
Born in 1975, Prem Yadav was the second of five children to parents who hail from Uttar Pradesh. A victim of polio in the first year of his life, he was hospitalized for almost the entire year. Struggling through financial hardships, he grew up in Mumbai. “I am a strong believer that a handicap – whether physical or economic is mostly in the mind,” says Prem who at the age of 17 in 1991, joined as a functionary of CORO (Committee of Resource Organizations for Literacy). He took the initiative in his own slum community to work on adult literacy and later became part of a larger movement for literacy in Mumbai under the National Literacy Mission.
In 1992, Prem was a part of the group of pioneers from CORO in the public sanitation project. “I participated in every activity related to the functioning of the pay-and-use toilet project which today serves over 35,000 users each day.”
In 1993, when Pratham, an initiative for universalization of primary education in Mumbai, was launched by UNICEF and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Prem was a part of the core group of eight people to ensure that every child of the city was in school and learning well. “My role model, Dr. Madhav Chavan (Founder of Pratham), taught me the importance of keeping pace with the world. He shared with me his experiences during the many years he spent in the USA and his vision to develop India. Whenever I was with him, I felt the need to learn more and be more,” he adds. As a Chief Accountant with Pratham, his attitude towards work and life was to keep pressing forward and so he pursued a two year diploma course in software.
In July 1998, at a Pratham board meeting, ICICI representatives offered their 200 used computers for use by Pratham. “Computer education was a very large part of the economic divide. Seizing the ICICI offer, we setup 10 computer labs in the municipal schools of different wards of Mumbai – one in each of the 10 wards – this was the seed for Sanchar Infotech.” With active encouragement from Dr. Madhav Chavan and Farida Lambay (Co-Founder of Pratham) Sanchar InfoTech now benefits 1.73 lac children from disadvantaged sections of the society in 400+ centres across seven States in India. I have over 425 youth managing the programme with me.
In April 2000 Ratnakar Gaikwad, Additional Municipal Commission of Mumbai, suggested Sanchar focus on the issues facing young adults in poor economic situations. Taking cue, Sanchar launched a computer skill building initiative programme for young adults. Approximately, 20,000 young adults have benefitted from our various skill building and entrepreneurship programs.
As Director, Sanchar InfoTech Pvt. Ltd., I have ensured to the best of my abilities, that computer education does not remain a luxury for the rich. My company has developed several educational software programs and published several computer education books in local Indian languages which are easily understandable to those from poor educational backgrounds. We have developed computer education as a sustainable business model which can be run in the remotest areas of India.
Together with my friends and other associates, with whom I have lived and worked in my life, our motto is to provide opportunities to the underprivileged to help them achieve their maximum potential. This is why, I have always preferred to invest in my grassroot level employees, build their capacity and promote them to higher positions because of my belief in their potential. My friends, have in turn, formed a second generation of leaders in different parts of the country who will help us reach our objective which is to take every child from “Illiteracy to e-literacy”.