Education and Pratham

The Economist writes:

Pratham’s response to widespread illiteracy and innumeracy was to experiment. It tried various remedies in half the schools in a district or city, picking which half at random. The remaining schools provided a control group with which to compare the results of its efforts*. One of its more successful ventures was to hire unqualified high-school graduates to provide remedial education for students falling behind. These balsakhis (which means children’s friends) were cheap, paid about $10-15 a month, and quick to train, receiving only two weeks of prior instruction. Because they did their work in hallways or even under trees, there was nothing for governments or donors to build.

Nonetheless, the instruction they offered was surprisingly effective. In Mumbai it raised the chances of fourth-year pupils grasping first-year maths by 11.9 percentage points. It improved their chances of mastering second-year literacy by 9.9 percentage points. The gains in Vadadora (formerly known as Baroda) were smaller, but still worthwhile.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.