“The Kravis Prize was the first ever international recognition Pratham received, which may have opened doors for subsequent awards that have been coming every year. If the prize was precious, the warmth and the support that came from the Claremont McKenna College leadership support program has been invaluable.”
Dr. Madhav Chavan, Founder of Pratham

About Pratham

Pratham was established as a Public Charitable Trust in 1994 by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, UNICEF, and several prominent Indian citizens. Pratham quickly identified that school-age children were lagging behind in reading and arithmetic. Remedial education classes were implemented as an extension of the pre-school program. Special “Bridge” classes targeted out-of-school children and were designed to bring them to a minimum learning level before mainstreaming the children into the schools. Pratham is the first program to provide pre-school education to the children in the slums of Mumbai.

In 2002-2003, Pratham adopted the area approach for delivery of their programs in urban areas, involving the entire community. Pratham also developed its “Learn to Read” technique which used integrated activities to promote literacy and the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the largest evaluation study of children’s learning levels in India. Currently, ASER is used widely by governments, education policymakers, academics, and other nonprofits to identify specific problems in education

By increasing the literacy levels of India’s poor, which account for about one third of the world’s poor, Pratham aims to improve India’s economic and social equality.

Current Operations of Pratham

In January of 2007, Pratham launched its flagship program, Read India, after finding that children, although enrolled in school, were not learning to read, write, or grasp basic arithmetic. Read India targets children, age 6-14 years, and concentrates on using short, focused campaigns to increase the levels of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Read India has reached approximately 34 million children to date, resulting in large-scale improvements in literacy levels across several states in India. Additional programs include preschools and libraries; training of teachers, volunteers, and government officials; rehabilitation and education of vulnerable and working children; early childhood care and education; and computer and English literacy. Pratham Books develops and publishes low-cost books in 11 Indian languages. In addition to these programs, Pratham implements and oversees the yearly evaluation study of children’s learning levels in India and publishes the results in the Annual Status of Education Report, which is used widely by governments, education policymakers, academics, and other nonprofits.

As of January 2010, Pratham was working in 21 states in India, with a presence in 43 cities and 305,000 villages. Pratham announced in early 2015 that Dr. Rukmini Banerji will be succeding Pratham’s founder Dr. Madhav Chavan as the CEO on July 1, 2015.

Approach and Distinguishing Features

Pratham’s rapid growth and scale are largely attributable to its low cost and replicable model that heavily heavily upon its volunteers. Recognizing the importance of early interventions, the organization focuses on pre-school education as well as primary/elementary education. With the mission “Every Child in School and Learning Well,” Pratham works to improve educational access as well as educational quality. Notably, Pratham is based on a triangular partnership with government, the corporate sector, and the citizens. In each geographic area, the corporate leaders take the lead, the government responds by opening its schools and sharing its facilities, and the community volunteers who are mostly young enthusiastic women from high poverty areas, implement Pratham’s programs. Pratham’s programs are designed to supplement, not supplant, the governments’ educational efforts.


Kravis Prize in Nonprofit Leadership

2010 Recipient

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