Pratham’s Early Years program works towards the holistic development of children in the age group of 0-8 years through the implementation of play-based pedagogy, using local resources, low-cost and appropriate material, and involving caregivers, especially mothers.

Pratham’s work began in 1995 with Early Childhood Education where ‘balwadis’ were run by community-based volunteers. Since then, the program has evolved considerably through years of experimentation with different content, material, and delivery models.

India’s National Education Policy (NEP 2020) stresses the importance of the foundational stage — age group 3 to 8 years. This policy direction has led to intensification of activities within government systems in the last few years — bringing together the early childhood work (age 3 to 6) — and interventions for early grades in school (Grades 1 and 2 or age 6-8). In this evolving landscape, Pratham continues to invest heavily in expanding and exploring how to impact children’s foundational abilities during these early years. Pratham believes that building strong foundational abilities in children during their early years will make them effective learners and eliminate the need for remedial interventions in the later years.

In 2022-2023, Pratham reached over 56 lakh children through government partnerships and nearly 5.74 lakh children directly through education activities. Over 2.17 lakh mothers participated in Pratham-led mothers’ groups and nearly 17 lakh mothers were reached through Pratham’s government partnerships. Pratham’s Early Years programs are active in 18 states across India.


Ensure early stimulation from birth to three years.

Entry to Pre-school

Important to ensure enrollment of children in their early years in Anganwadis or pre-school.

Entry to School

It is critical to push the age of entry into Grade 1 at 6 years and ensure that children spend enough years in pre-school in order to be ready for school.

Ready to Learn

Ensure foundational literacy and numeracy by Grade 3.



In Pratham’s direct programs, volunteers in the community are mobilized and trained to conduct daily activities with children inside the Anganwadi. These activities are also called “Anganwadi Mei Dhoom”. This is done to ensure greater community involvement in children’s early childhood education.

In Pratham’s government partnership programs, Pratham trains government master trainers/key resource persons in the state on appropriate teaching pedagogy, who in turn train Anganwadi workers/school teachers. Pratham develops a year-long curriculum/content planner to support teaching-learning in the classrooms.


Mothers’ groups are formed in the community and mothers are encouraged to meet every week in their groups to discuss how they can be actively involved in their children’s learning and development process. Guided content pieces like Idea Cards and Idea Videos are shared with mothers' groups who are expected to view and discuss them during their weekly meetings and do the suggested activities with their children at home. Further, on a monthly or quarterly basis, mothers are invited to the school for a mothers’ workshop. This helps strengthen the connection between the teacher and the mothers.


Within the early childhood spectrum, one of Pratham’s major objectives is to ensure that children are “Ready for School”. A key activity undertaken by Pratham in this regard is a community event – the “School Readiness Mela” (also mentioned in NIPUN Bharat guidelines of the Government of India, p.239). This event seeks to engage local community members at large, including children, mothers, families, Anganwadi workers, school teachers, and government officials. The purpose of the Mela is to understand children’s readiness for school through a variety of fun activities and engage mothers in their children’s learning journey.  Mothers are given a report card which explains the level of their children across domains and are oriented on simple activities to do at home to build their children’s ability on the same skills. After a period of 1-2 months, a second round of Melas is done in which the children’s progress is recorded.


Inside the Anganwadi/school, Pratham believes that classrooms should be “print-rich" with a variety of story books, story cards, picture cards, and flash cards as well as “play-rich" with a variety of manipulatives, toys, and other play-based activities.

In community and home-based activities, Pratham advocates the use of locally available materials – things one can easily find at home. The objective is to make education accessible to all by eliminating the need for expensive or inaccessible materials.

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In Pratham-led programs, children are assessed on a variety of skills across all developmental domains: physical, language, cognitive, math, and social-emotional domains. For this purpose, Pratham has developed a set of assessment tools which are in line with the recommendations of NIPUN Bharat and NCERT. The tools have been developed keeping in mind that children learn at different paces, and are, therefore, progressive in nature. Each skill in the assessment tool is split into four stages and children’s progress is tracked over time – 2-3 times over the course of an academic year in order to assess their growth.


In 2015, Pratham started tablet and mobile device-based initiatives that experimented with community-based learning using digital learning games, WhatsApp and SMS messages and videos. Pratham has also created a repository of digital content in the form of videos, games, online instructional material for caregivers and teachers of 0-to-8-year-olds.

Pratham’s artificial intelligence and machine learning-based content creation and development of speech-to-text and text-to-speech began five years ago. Pratham now collaborates with leading commercial and academic groups to develop independent learning and assessment tools .

Pratham Digital aims to create an open learning mechanism to help children and youth prepare for school, work and life. Learn more about Pratham Open School here.


Under the Early Years program, Pratham has undertaken a number of research projects to understand the scope, build evidence and plan interventions to scale impact. Learn more about these projects here.