Pratham Executive Committee


Dr. Madhav Chavan is a co-founder and CEO-President of Pratham, an organization that reaches 3 million primary school age children in India every year.

He acquired a Ph. D. in Chemistry at the Ohio State University in the US in 1983 and returned to India in 1986 after his post-doctoral work at the University of Houston. In 1989, while teaching at the University of Mumbai, he started mass scale work for adult literacy in the slums of Mumbai as a part of the National Literacy Mission in the slums of Mumbai. In 1994, as a result of an initiative of UNICEF in Mumbai, Pratham was set up to address problems of universal primary education in Mumbai. Dr. Chavan has since then led the development of the organization and its programs. Pratham has several mass-scale innovations such as the Annual Status of Education Report in the area of assessment and the Read India movement in the delivery of education for the underprivileged to its credit.

Pratham has been recognized by the Kravis Prize and the Skoll Award for its innovativeness and leadership as a social entrepreneurial organization in the area of education. MadhavChavan was recently awarded the WISE Prize for Education instituted by the Qatar Foundation at the World Innovation Summit for Education, which is equated with a “Nobel for work done in education”.

Dr. Chavan is a creative individual who has anchored television shows, written songs about human rights and women’s rights.  He enjoys working out creative ways to educate or train children and youth. He finds time to work on challenges of teaching while balancing his duties as the CEO of a big organization.


Farida has 25 years of experienceas an education and social activist. She co-founded Pratham in 1994 and is responsible for the direct programs in Mumbai and Gujarat, as well as the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children across India. In addition to her work at Pratham, she is former Vice Principal, NirmalaNiketan College of Social Work, Mumbai.

She has been responsible for many progressive National policy changesin education and in child labour. She currently serves on the Government of India Committee on Child Labour & on Research in Education and was recently nominated a member of the National Advisory Committee, under the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986. She was also recently appointed member of the Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.

In addition, Farida has initiated other projects such asPrerana (working for the rights of Prostitutes in Kamatipura, Mumbai), YUVA (an organisation working on various social issues taking strength from the youth) and others. She has spearheaded Disaster Relief efforts during the 1992 Bombay Riots, the Latur earthquake, Orissa cyclone, 26/11 Mumbai floods, Bihar floods, Mumbai terror attacks to name a few. She has been a part of several State and National Committees including the SSA (SarvaShikshaAbhiyan), Sachar Committee, the Maharashtra State Security Council and others. She has attended and participated in several National and International Conferences and has many publications to her credit.


Dr. Rukmini Banerji has been associated with Pratham since 1996. She is a member of the national leadership team of the organization. Until recently, she was responsible for Pratham's programs and activities in several major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam. She has extensive field experience both in program implementation as well as in assessment, evaluation, survey and research.

Initially trained as an economist in India, she did her B.A. at St. Stephen's College and attended the Delhi School of Economics. She was a Rhodes Scholar at the Oxford University and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. She did her post-doctoral work at the Population Research Center at the University of Chicago and later worked as a program officer at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago before returning to India in 1996. Originally from Bihar, she is now based in New Delhi.

Rukmini has led the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) effort since its launch in 2005. ASER is a nation-wide household survey of children conducted each year in every rural district in India. It is the only current source of information in the country on children's ability to read and do basic arithmetic. ASER has been acknowledged nationally and internationally for its innovativeness in involving citizens and for its impact on education policy and practice. Rukmini currently heads the ASER Centre.

In 2008, Rukmini was awarded the Maulana Abul Kalam Shiksha Puraskar by the Bihar Government. She was the first recipient of this award.  She has represented Pratham and the ASER Centre at a variety of national and international forums.  She is currently a member of the CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education) Committee of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. She is also a co-chair for the Global Learning Metrics Task Force that has been convened by the Brookings Institution and UNESCO.


Since 1996, Usha Rane has been one of the leaders of the teaching-learning innovations in Pratham.  Mobilizing communities and catalyzing schools to deliver basic learning on scale has been one of her primary interests.  Her work in 2002-2003, in the government schools in the tribal blocks of Maharastra was a precursor to the large-scale Pratham-government partnerships that emerged thereafter in many states. Today Usha is responsible for Pratham’s work in five states and she heads Pratham’s Content and Curriculum Unit. Prior to joining Pratham, Usha worked for many years with Hindustan Petroleum.


Program Director for Northern States

Brij Kaul has a Masters in Plasma Physics from Delhi University and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad.

He had worked in the corporate sector for about 4 years before venturing into setting up and managing his own manufacturing units for special textiles and refractories. Brij has represented several multinational technology companies engaged in network management, video surveillance, wireless and data encryption solutions for banks and network carriers. He joined Pratham in 2006.


Programme Director, District Resource Centres

Meera has been working with Pratham since 1997 and has handled various responsibilities in these years.  She is currently responsible for setting up the District Resource Centres in various States of India, and is also working on building the capacities of the Pratham national team. She is interested in developing teaching material for children and innovative teaching modules.