Pratham's program for Grade 1-2 (with children in the first two years of primary school), is based on a comprehensive framework for literacy and numeracy instruction, intended not only to help young children gain literacy and numeracy skills, but also to build and sustain reading and writing as a life skill. In some locations, this program is conducted by Pratham instructors in school and in other locations it is a community-based intervention. (This program is also referred to as "Balvachan".)

(The programs conducted by Pratham instructors are outlined here. There are other programs in which Pratham partners with governments at state and district levels where teachers implement early grade learning programs with children in Grade 1-2. The details of such partnerships are described in the government partnership section.)
Ten years of data from ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) point to three key facts: First, at every grade level, basic learning levels are unacceptably low. Second, over time learning levels seem to be "stuck". If anything, there are some indications of a declining trend, implying that later cohorts are doing worse than earlier counterparts. Third, learning trajectories over time are relatively flat.

This suggests that if children do not acquire fundamental skills early on, they are unlikely that to pick them up later. All of this leads to the simple fact that basic foundational skills are essential for moving ahead meaningfully through the school system or indeed through life. The first two years of a child's life in school are crucial for laying this foundation.
The program is based on learnings from a research and development project that was implemented in Dadri and Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, from July 2013 to May 2016. The current "direct" intervention with children in Grade 1 and 2 is conducted by a Pratham team member. Depending on the context, instructional activity may be done with children of Grade 1 or 2 or a mixed group of both classes. Typically, activities are carried out either daily or several times a week; the intervention lasts a full school year, and is divided into 2 phases: a warm-up phase of about 1 to 2 months followed by a period of 6 months or more of direct instructional activities.

Warm-Up Phase: Most rural children, especially those in government schools, enter school without much home support for learning or prior preparation for school readiness. Hence, in the first few months of the year the focus is on getting children ready for school and for classroom learning activities. During this warm-up phase, the Pratham instructor carries out a series of activities that help gauge what children can do easily and what they are struggling with. The instructor spends most of the time in this phase on building the child's readiness for school, readiness for class and on readiness for learning. Pre-literacy and pre-numeracy activities are also done.

Direct instructional activities: During this phase a set of activities for developing literacy and numeracy skills are conducted on a daily basis. These activities build children's listening abilities, ability to discuss what they have heard, word reading strategies, phonological awareness, vocabulary and the ability to put down thoughts on paper. Numeracy activities build on number sense, operations, dealing with word problems in math and estimation.

Along with direct instructional activities in big and small groups, the program aims to build a supportive environment for literacy, language and numeracy development. This includes creating a print rich environment; using appropriate reading materials and books; creating reading corners and activity corners; and engaging mothers to facilitate learning at home.
Reach and Scale
In order to ensure that children in India learn to read, write and do basic math, Pratham has worked in collaboration with various levels of governments in 16 states across the country since 2011, with partnerships continuing for multiple years in many locations. Today Pratham-government partnerships
and UTs
Total Districts
(part of partnership)
Total Blocks
(part of partnership)
Number of children reached
Major Partnerships
1 Madhya Pradesh 51 311 83917 I-II
2 Himachal Pradesh 12 123 14877 III-VIII
3 Bihar 15 111 1929 III-V
4 Jharkhand 15 66 10781 III-V
5 Kashmir 10 91 9294 III-V
6 Karnataka 3 21 4429 IV-V
7 Andhra Pradesh 3 151 7703 III-V
8 Uttar Pradesh 5 29 3995 III-V
Other Partnerships
9 Chhattisgarh - Dhamtari 1 4 880 I-V
10 Gujarat  4 12 686 III-V
11 West Bengal - Malda 1 11 846 I-II
12 Assam - Kamrup 1 2 334 III-V
13 Telangana - Mahbubnagar 1 3 45 III-V
Partnerships in Union Territories
14 Daman & Diu 2 - 192 III-V
15 Dadar Nagar & Haveli 1 - 192 III-V
  TOTAL 125 935 139908  
are active for Grades 1-2, for Grades 3-5 and also in some locations for upper primary schools.
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Reports and Media
Pratham Government partnerships for Grades 1-2
Evaluations and other documents
Abhijit Banerjee, Rukmini Banerji, James Berry, Esther Duflo, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukherji, Marc Shotland, Michael Walton From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application. NBER Working Paper 22931. Issued in December 2016.

Abhijit Banerjee, Rukmini Banerji, Esther Duflo, James Berry, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukherji, Marc Shotland, and Michael Walton. "Mainstreaming an Effective Intervention: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations of "Teaching at the Right Level" in India". NBER Working Paper No. 22746. October 2016.
Rukmini Banerji and Madhav Chavan "Improving literacy and math instruction at scale in India's primary schools: The case of Pratham's Read India program". Journal of Educational Change. 17(4), 433-475. November 2016.

Rukmini Banerji. An Intervention improves student reading. Phi Beta Kappan. Vol 95 no. 6. pages 74-75. March 2014