India is a country in southern Asia that has struggled with education. In India, millions of children are at risk of losing their education. In fact, 29% of students drop out of school before finishing elementary education. Those in poverty are less likely to receive a quality education, especially in a society like India’s where castes are often still present. They are also more likely to get married young and enter the workforce instead of completing school. Their poverty causes them to miss out on a quality education necessary to succeed in future careers. Without training or education, people are more likely to work low-paying jobs, creating a cycle of poverty for generations to come. Pratham USA in India is an organization that is committed to increasing education in India.
Pratham USA is an organization that provides education to children in India, a country where many children go without. It also gives girls and women who had to drop out of school another chance to finish their education later on. The organization also provides job training for uneducated and underprivileged men and women. Fewer than five million Indian youth had had access to formal job training from 2014-2015. At least 130 million Indian youth will enter the workforce in the next five years. Many of them will not have formal job training or a full education.
Pratham USA realizes the connection between poverty and education, which is why its mission is “every child in school and learning well”. It builds schools and sends teachers over to India to teach kids and adults who couldn’t get these resources otherwise. Pratham USA is one of the “most successful non-governmental education organizations in India.” It provides training for new teachers, builds schools and education systems and has a cost-efficient system of teaching that can be easily replicated. At least fourteen countries use Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) to help children get a quality education.
Pratham’s Annual Gala
Every year in October, Pratham USA holds a gala in Chicago. This author was fortunate enough to go on October 6, 2018. Surrounded by businessmen and prominent members of the Indian-American community, the author learned about what Pratham’s purpose is and how Pratham USA helps in India helps to educate children who would not have received it otherwise. At the gala, four speakers took the stage: a business supporter of Pratham USA, members of Pratham USA’s teen board, the president of Pratham USA and a recipient of one of the many programs Pratham USA put in place to help educate the children and women of India.
The unnamed speaker spoke about her childhood in a small village where education for women is highly discouraged. She lived at home with her mother, siblings and abusive father. Her father died when she was young, leaving her and her family in poverty. They scrambled to survive on 2400 rupees (about $32) a month. Her mother was uneducated and could not secure a higher paying job, demonstrating the link between a lack of education and poverty. The speaker saw the ties as well. As a result, she dreamed of nothing more than to finish high school. Before she could realize her dream, her house burned down. She ended up in a hospital with severe burns and unable to finish school.
Within time, she attended a Pratham skill training camp. Afterward, she secured a job as an in-home nurse with a salary of 12,000 per month – five times the amount she and her family lived off of when she was a child. With this salary, the speaker began to live independently as well as provide for her mother and siblings. Pratham changed her and her family’s lives.
What They Do
After opening in 1995, Pratham USA’s first goal was to bring education to Mumbai slums; it has since expanded. It works with both national and state governments to implement new and innovative teaching methods and opportunities to make sure every child has the chance to be in school. The organization focuses on implementing learning into the structure of the community by sending volunteers to teach school. It also trains new teachers to make sure its legacy is long-lasting.
Examples of Pratham’s innovative teaching strategies include teaching to a child’s ability instead of age, creating libraries for the whole community and implementing technology strategies. To increase girls’ education, Pratham implemented a Second Chance program, which allows older girls to receive a secondary education. It also has 5-day long residential camps for girls whose home life would not allow them to go to school every day. For adults who did not receive an education when they were young, Pratham also provides vocational training, lifting people out of poverty by training them for better jobs.
“Pratham USA reached 8 million children” in the 2017/18 school year alone. That same year, the organization supported more than 15 million children through government partnered literacy and learning programs. Pratham USA taught an additional 900,000 children through its own learning programs. Also, in that year, 26,000 people received vocational training. Pratham educational interventions improved literacy rates by 50% with a 45% increase in number recognition. Girls’ graduations increased by 30% with Pratham intervention. Graduates of the vocational training also see successes as they are often able to triple their monthly income up to $200 after training.
Pratham USA in India helps to fix the educational system in India, giving children quality education that they would not have otherwise received. With the work of Pratham USA and other non-profits, India can begin to fix its education system. This will give children what they need in order to lift themselves out of poverty by getting higher-paying, specialized, jobs.
– Seona Maskara