The journey that started to eliminate the cycle of poverty by eradicating illiteracy from India
Dreaming the impossible & starting big
Pratham started its mission to educate on a large scale with the view that education facilities must reach as many children as possible and as quickly as possible.

Thus Pratham was established as a Public Charitable Trust by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, UNICEF, and several prominent citizens of the country in 1995 to provide education to children in the slums of Mumbai.

Today, Pratham is the largest NGO working in the Indian education sector.
Massive expansion and national impact
Over the years, the Pratham network has expanded to 21 states in India and our direct programs and affiliated organizations reach thousands of children each year.

The catalysts for this success have been the innovative methods used to approach the problem of education in India. The implementation of these unique programs aims to create a national impact.
Understanding the root of the problem and starting there
Pratham recognized that the first step to achieving universal primary education is to achieve universal preschool education, and has worked towards this goal through the Balwadi (pre-school) programs. It began by providing preschool education to children in the slums of Mumbai. Soon, the Pratham Balwadis multiplied and this successful model was adopted in other states across the nation.
Next came Balsakhi, or 'bridge classes'
While setting up Balwadis, we came in contact with children who were lagging behind academically and were at a risk of dropping out. Steps had to be taken to bring them up to a minimum learning level so that they do not drop out of school.
Reaching new heights
Between 1999 and 2001, Pratham expanded its work to cover 19 cities with unique teaching models. Simultaneously, we began working in the sphere of child rights by tackling the problem of child labour through an outreach programs that eventually gave birth to the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC)

In 2000, Pratham was awarded the Global Development Network Award, sponsored by the World Bank and Government of Japan, and was regarded as one of the top three 'most innovative development projects'.
Learn to Read - the program that changed everything
The 'Learn to Read' program was a breakthrough at Pratham. It demonstrated that learning can be improved over a short timespan and at a low cost. The model was ready to be replicated on a national scale.
Research as the key to cultural transformation

By 2005, we realized that the world did not understand the severity of illiteracy in India and its consequences.

Hence 'The Annual Status of Education Report' (ASER) was established to quantify the problems of education that could lead to focused action. The massive nationwide study is today the largest non-governmental, household survey undertaken in rural India and covers over 16,000 households and more than 600,000 children each year.


It has been significant in defining a qualitative agenda in education and is widely acknowledged in government and policy circles, both inside and outside of India.

Read India, the response to a crisis in learning

The findings of ASER 2005 and 2006 revealed that in spite of having been in school for over 4 years, a significant percentage of children could not read, write, or do basic arithmetic.To address this issue Pratham launched the Read India campaign in 2007 which aimed to improve reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills of children between 6-14 years.

In just 2 years of intervention, Read India reached around 33 million children annually. Now in its third phase, Read India focuses more on providing an adoptable model for state governments rather than on directly reaching a large audience.

A program for dropout students
The Second Chance program gives dropout students, especially girls, a chance to complete their education and acquire skills for employment. This particularly helps girls in small towns and villages.
We understood the growing importance of technology
The Pratham InfoTech Foundation (PIF) was started in 2004 to achieve e-education for all. The PIF works to facilitate the adoption of Information Technology (IT) in education and boost digital literacy to bridge the digital divide in India and to aid inclusive growth.
Vocational training programs
The vocational training program began in 2005 to give unemployed and underemployed youth an opportunity to gain employment.

In 2008, Pratham partnered with Mr. Sudesh Arora for industry-specific training which gave birth to - 'Pratham Arora Centre for Education' (PACE). PACE introduced industry-specific courses for hospitality, construction, automotive, and bedside assistance.

The 'Education for Education' (EFE) program was developed for volunteers to teach in the Read India campaign with an aim to strengthen the capacity of volunteers by providing them with digital literacy and basic spoken English skills.

In 2010, this program was made into a separate legal entity under the name the 'Pratham Institute'. It began scaling up to cater to a larger number of youth and in the next two years, programs such as the 'Employment Readiness program' and the 'Beauty Entrepreneurship program' were launched.

In 2012, the 'Foundation Course for Employability' was launched to train our education entrepreneurs to mobilize and train students in the course.
Partner with Pratham
Pratham continues to reach underprivileged children and youth in vast areas of the county by constantly adding new and innovative programs.

Work with us to make this possible.

A History of Success

From its start in providing pre-school education to the children in the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown across India reaching over 4.7 million children across 20 states. Our flagship programs Read India, launched in 2007, reached over 33 million children in three years. Central to this success has been a whole new way of approaching the education problem to create a national impact.
A glimpse on the journey of Pratham innovations since its inception.