Skoll Foundation



Skoll Awardee(s): Madhav Chavan
Award Year: 2011
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

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“If it was your child who cannot read, would you blame the government, or get up and start teaching your child? Mahatma Gandhi said, get up and do it yourselves. He walked 23 days, 300 kilometers, to end the British Empire. Hundreds of thousands joined him, You don’t have to walk 300 kilometers, just pick up a book and read with a few children in your village. Hundreds of thousands will join you, and the history of India will change again.”

Sub-Issues: Early Childhood and Primary Education; Secondary Education; Women and Girls Education On the surface, India’s education record looks good: 97 percent of its 200 million children enrolled in school. But tests and surveys reveal a different picture: fewer than half of village children read or understand mathematics at a level appropriate to their age and grade.

The Skoll Awardee: Dr. Madhav Chavan founded Pratham in 1993, responding to a Unicef challenge to universalize primary education in India. Pratham developed teaching tools and materials for villages and “learning camps,” working with state governments to reform educational policy and make the tools available to every school system, and carrying out a national Annual Status of Education Report to measure children’s literacy and numeracy skills. At the height of its Read India campaign, Pratham reached half of India’s villages, working with more than 33 million children in 21 states (17 percent of the school age population). In most states, all children in the program learned their alphabets, and the number able to read was up by 20 percent.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2011: 

  • Pratham is India’s largest nongovernmental organization working in education, and even since the completion of the Read India campaign, maintains an active presence in 17 states and 28,000 villages. .
  • The Annual Status of Education Report surveys 600,000 children annually
  • During the 2012-2013 school year:
    • Pratham recruited and trained 65,000 volunteers and trained 61,000 teachers
    • 100,000 children borrowed books from Pratham libraries
    • 120,000 children gained computer skills at 431 centers in 8 states
    • 4,000 child laborers and street children were rescued, sheltered, and educated



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.