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India’s 4th most populous state is also one of the poorest states in India. It has seen its share of strife over the past decades, too. Both of these factors have contributed to the state’s poor child literacy rates—especially among the higher grades.
According to Pratham’s 2010 ASER Report:
- Only 50-60% of West Bengal’s 3rd graders can read a 1st grade text
- Only 40-50% of 3rd graders can do subtraction.
- Only 30-40% of children in 5th grade can do division
Pratham began operations in West Bengal in 2006 by starting community libraries in five districts in collaboration with the Calcutta Foundation. Then in 2007, Chalo Padhi—West Bengal’s version of Read India—began as pilot programs here. As a result of the successful pilots, the government SSA in collaboration with Pratham introduced the program out throughout the state and has committed materials and people to support it. Unlike other states, the campaign is being implemented through a strong collaboration with the panchayats, or village committees.
Pratham’s programs in West Bengal include:
Pratham is currently running the Read India program through eight BEPs. In absence of formal written consent from the state government, Pratham has reached 677 villages to teach 23,649 children, through this program. Read India West Bengal operates in collaboration with local government—such as panchayats, or committees, and school officials—where local governing bodies have officially sought Pratham’s assistance on curriculum-design as well as training in some districts.
Pratham’s efforts extend beyond the classroom, reaching parents and local officials through meetings and melas to encourage communities and panchayats to focus on learning outcomes. Meetings are regularly held with district and block administrations to update them on the progress of the program and social events (such as meetings with local officials, and academic competitions for the children) are held to test children as well as to encourage community participation.
Training for Government SSA
In the Coochbihar district, where Pratham runs a Block Excellence Program (BEP) in the Mathabhanga-I block, the Coochbihar Sarva Siksha Mission invited Pratham to train district and block-level SSA personnel in reading development.
Education for Education centers (EFE)
Pratham launched seven centers in all blocks except for the Rangli- Rangliot block in the Darjeeling district. Our focus:
- Working to ensure that the EFE program is successfully taken up by volunteers
- Offering much-needed courses in English
- Increasing the number of Pratham block and district coordinators, as well as volunteers trained
Help Pratham continue to improve the literacy rates of West Bengal’s kids. Make your contribution now.