Pratham is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in India and was co-founded by Madhav Chavan and Farida Lambay.
In a country with a massive population, the one thing that needs utmost importance is education. And that is where Pratham comes into place. Pratham is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in India and was co-founded by Madhav Chavan and Farida Lambay.
The aim of the organization is to provide quality education to the underprivileged children in India. The organization was first established in the year 1994 in Mumbai with an aim to provide pre-school education to children in slums. Today, Pratham works across 23 states and union territories of India and also has support pouring in from the United States, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Australia.
Pratham has several programs for children - from the time they turn three till they get vocational training. One of the most popular programs of them all is Early Childhood Education which looks at the holistic development of children in the age group of 3-6 years through the use of local resources, low-cost and appropriate material, and involvement of caregivers.
Then there is the elementary program which is tricky yet the most important stage. While more than 95% of children are enrolled in school, they haven't yet acquired basic knowledge. This is where Pratham steps in and helps children learn to read fluently and to do arithmetic confidently. Other than just textual knowledge, Pratham also believes in providing opportunities to learn, to keep the child motivated and engaged, to give a child support not just from school but from a community as well.
While there are quite a huge number of dropouts from school, what is heartening is that most of the dropouts are generally girls. Once a child drops out, it becomes extremely difficult for a girl to get back into the system and that's when Pratham comes into place. This program aims to support women and help them complete their tenth grade in order to help them grow and explore future opportunities. Currently, Pratham has Second Chance centers in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Telangana.
Under the Hybrid learning program, children between the age groups of 10-14 form a group and learn different subjects. Digital devices and content is placed right in the hands of these children who are always eager to learn. However, according to Pratham's website, "Community-based children’s groups engage in choice-based learning and are guided by the coaches and youth members in the communities. The communities are organized to facilitate and support learning activities and assessments."
Having said that, children learn on tablets and do projects or conduct activities (e.g. role plays, playing games) and then present what they have learned either in front of a live audience of parents or on a video.
In 2005, the NGO expanded and launched Pratham Institute, the vocational skilling arm. “The aim is to train youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (age 18‐25 years) and provide them with employable skills, coupled with access to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities," the website states. The program provides entry-level jobs and placements in 10 major vocations. The holistic program starts with short-term, residential courses of 2 to 3 months, with a special focus on youth from rural areas. The program offers hands on experience in a specific field, youth counseling, industry linkage, and focuses on hands-on skills training. Some of the courses taught are construction (including electrical, plumbing, masonry, and welding), hospitality (housekeeping, food, and beverage service and food production), and automotive mechanic, healthcare nursing, and beauty and wellness services.
One of the most important aspects of Pratham is their Child Protection wing called the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC) Established in 2001, the vision is "Every Child's Rights Protected, Every Child in School and Learning Well."
This wing of the organization focuses on "working with child laborers and children in difficulty, to a rights-based resource organization, working on the broad issues of protection and safeguarding the rights of children." The organization focuses on child labour, children with special needs, children in institutions, children suffering from substance abuse, those in conflict with the law, children who are victims of sexual abuse, and children belonging to the most marginalized communities. PCVC aims to provide these children with access to education and equal opportunities.
How can you help?
In order to help and support these children, the one thing you can do is donate. Monetary help can equip parents in remote and rural areas with tools to support their child's learning, and support governments and civil society with meaningful data to drive decisions. A young girl can complete her secondary education with the little help you provide. Most importantly, Pratham has not stopped functioning even during the pandemic. Adapting to the times, the organization and its volunteers have come up with measures to work with children and have reached children in 12,000+ communities directly, engaged 80,000 youth, mobilized over 100,000 volunteers, and built partnerships at scale. Donate today and help a child back home!
Images courtesy of Pratham