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Blog: Read India - When ‘Scale’ Met ‘System’

This post is about how Sukhpreet Sekhon and his team set up a measurement system for a large scale education initiative that stretched across 15 states in India reaching half a million children. We are a part of ASER Centre, the assessment, survey, evaluation and research arm of Pratham.  In the summer of 2013 we set up the Monitoring, Measurement & Evaluation (" MME") Unit for monitoring, measuring & evaluating Pratham’s biggest program – Read India.

This post will also provide interesting insights for those engaged in setting up measurement systems on scale for programs in the social sector.

BACKGROUND

Pratham is one of India’s largest non-governmental organisations working in the education sector. Annually, since 2005, Pratham has been facilitating the ASER survey[1] that provides information on schooling and basic learning from all rural districts in India. Since inception, ASER has been highlighting the poor levels of reading and arithmetic skills of children aged 5 to 16. To address this problem, in 2007, Pratham launched the Read India program to demonstrate what could be done to improve children’s basic learning on scale.

In 2013, Pratham’s Read India program had been in the field for six years. The interventions had evolved across two phases of three years each. With every phase the model for how to support children’s basic learning changed and improved significantly. By 2013, Pratham had designed and piloted the “Learning Camp” model.[2]  And now it was time to scale up. We urgently needed to put in place a robust, standardized and independent internal measurement system that could help us better assess what we were doing and provide feedback to the entire program to deliver better outcomes.[3] To get this done, the MME unit was constituted. Our first project was to develop, manage and sustain a robust measurement system for Read India.

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