Intl. Conf. on Social Entrepreneurship in India – Day 2

Day 2

The second day started off by getting down to business immediately. Madhav Chavan of Pratham was the first speaker and his mandate was to enlighten the gathering on “How to scale up an organization?”. It really was a treat listening to him. During the course of his talk, he touched upon many other topics related to Social Entrepreneurship. Pratham, as Mr Chavan confessed, was a “monstrous” organization now, and there were special challenges that it faced in its functioning. He reminded us on how increase in scale led to decrease in quality and loss of efficiency. He also opined that scale is not necessarily something that every organization should aspire for. There are organizations that operate in niche sectors. The “one size fits all” policy cannot be applied when it comes to scaling up for social organizations because their scaling up depends on a number of factors that are unique to the organizations area and field of operations. Organizations need to mature by institutionalizing. However, this exercise should be followed without falling in the trap of bureaucracy.

Madhav Chavan photo credit Sonia Rai
Madhav Chavan photo credit Sonia Rai

Continue reading

Advertisements

[TC-I Changemakers] A book for every child — the mission for Pratham Books

The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with interviews with people we believe are at the brink of something special but have for the most part been overlooked by the mainstream media. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.

This week we had the opportunity to speak with Gautam John, who works for Pratham Books. We have written

Pratham Books

about Pratham in the past, but have yet to write about this part of the organization. Pratham Books’ goal is a book in every child’s hand — by no means an easy task. Pratham Books also has its own blog, which you can read here, and also has a Facebook group — click here to join. Utilizing the wonders of Skype, TC-I’s very own Vinay Ganti was able to speak with Gautam (who is currently situated in Bangalore) about the amazing things Pratham Books has done and what they hope to do looking forward.

Vinay Ganti: I wanted to first thank you on behalf of the ThinkChange india community for taking the time to speak with us today. Why don’t we start with the obvious question of what exactly Pratham Books does and why it was started?

Gautam John: At the simplest level, the goal of Pratham Books is to place a book in every child’s hand in India. Or to be more emphatic, we want to provide access to books to the last child in the last village in India and promote reading as a habit. The need for Pratham Books arose four years ago and came out of the umbrella organization’s activities. Pratham is a large scale movement aimed to make every child in India literate. [Note: A videocast with a Vikas Taneja, a member of Pratham USA’s Executive Committee, will be posted in the near future.]

The chairperson of Pratham Books, Rohini Nilekani is also the chairperson of the Akshara Foundation, whose goal is to have every child in school and learning well, across the state of Karnataka. Pratham Books supplies books to the Akshara run programs.

VG: This goal is by no means an easy task. The first issue that comes to mind is how many of the poor will be able to afford to purchase these books.

GJ: Pratham Books was designed specifically with this issue in mind, and is just as much a proof of concept as it is a publishing house. We wanted to show other publishing companies that one can profitably and sustainably provide books to children, and for this reason none of our books are priced at more than Rs 25. We have also recently adapted our books to a story card format, abridging the content to fit in an A5 sheet that is richly illustrated, laminated and is priced at Rs. 1.50.

Continue reading

A Snapshot of the State of Education in India

Pratham released the results of their annual survey earlier this year which may be useful for those wanting data to inform their work. The survey shows that more children are attending schools, but that teacher attendance has slightly declined. According to a Merinews article, the report shows that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan government program is making tremendous impact in some of the Indian states. Also of note is that the percent of girls not going to school decreased. For example, in the 11-14 age category, the percent of girls that are out of school has come down to 7.4 per cent in 2007 from 10.3 per cent in 2006.

Some stats from the news article:

According to Pratham’s annual survey of education report, 2007, there is a considerable decline in the percentage of out-of-school children in the age group of 6 to 14 from 6.6 per cent in 2006 to 4.2 per cent in 2007.

The report also shows that children’s attendance in class I-V has remained static at 73.4 per cent, whereas the overall attendance from I-VIII increased to 75.5 per cent from 74.8 per cent in 2005. Even the per cent of schools, with 75 per cent and more enrolled children attending has increased marginally to 60.2 per cent from 59.7 per cent in 2005.

The midday meal coverage has increased from 74 per cent to 91.6 per cent.

Constructing educated children, fundraising event

In an unusual initiative, Pratham has begun a targeted effort to educate the children of construction workers in Pune. Pratham enlists the help of specially trained teachers that go to the construction sites themselves or even teach on the nearby crowded streets (From OneWorld South Asia).

Every day, between 3 to 7 pm, groups of children aged between four and fourteen are enthusiastically urged to recite rhymes, read English lessons, attempt basic arithmetic and speak the Queen’s language … For a majority of these children, the concept of education is a novelty. They admit that they have never ever seen the inside of a classroom.

Targeting a constituency where parents may not necessarily see the immediate value of educating their children, Pratham had to use persistence and persuasion to get their message across.

“It has been a tough task to start this project because the parents had to be first convinced about the need to send them here for schooling. They were not interested because they thought it would be a waste of time. Most of these children did not have birth certificates and so our primary job was to get this documentation done because we would eventually like to enrol them in mainstream schools,” states Suman Mane, one of the teachers trained by Pratham.

More after the jump, and information regarding Pratham’s fundraising event in New York City.

Continue reading