Educating India's Children: The Read India Movement

Dr. Madhav Chavan, co-founder of Pratham, India's largest non-profit in the area of primary education. (Narendra Bisht/

NEW YORK, August 12, 2008 - Over 93 percent of children in India are enrolled in schools, yet almost half cannot even read or write in the fifth grade. This insight into primary education in India underlies Read India, a literacy movement launched by the non-profit organization Pratham that aims to teach all children in India how to read, write, and do arithmetic by 2009.

In a discussion at the Asia Society, Pratham founder Dr. Madhav Chavan shed light on the state of primary education in India, where almost 100 million enrolled schoolchildren cannot read. He outlined Read India’s ambitious goal of reducing the number of illiterate Indian children from 100 million to 20 million within a year and bringing about social change in a large scale. According to Chavan, Pratham will reach this goal through the tenacity of the Indian people at the village level, and the unwavering support of the proponents of worldwide education.

Working on a grassroots, village-to-village basis, Pratham has mobilized volunteers in almost 300,000 villages across India and has formed partnerships with over 15 state governments to improve the quality of teaching in schools. Pratham has already reached 17 million children. The key to this and other successes, according to Chavan, was the organization’s ability to channel "the energy among young people who want to do something right.”

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