I Read for Pratham, You Bet on India’s Future! Mamata Misra
“I read for Pratham!” says the yellow wristband a few Austin kids wear. Thirty-two Austin kids read books for fun this summer by participating in the Pratham Readathon and raised over $7,000 to support 350 at-risk kids attend a Read India program. Why? “I think Pratham is important because it helps poor kids go to school and read like me. I like that idea because then they can enjoy the same books that we do,” answers seven-year-old Anand on his Readathon page. Shriya, a ten-year-old who read 37 books during Readathon, says, “I want to help kids in India because first it sounds fun and second I want to make a difference in the world.” Pratham Austin celebrated the success of this win-win project on August 26th afternoon where invited guest Jill Gonzalez, Program Director of BookSpring, presented certificates and prizes to participants.
The website www.prathamusa.org says a lot about Pratham’s large-scale movement to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty. Pratham’s Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) reveals the sad state of primary education in India. Pratham’s numerous intervention programs look impressive on the screen. But I wanted to see with my own eyes how Pratham intervenes and why it succeeds. So I spent two days visiting Pratham programs in several villages in two different districts in my home state Odisha during my last trip home. I observed children and tutors engaged in learning and teaching, browsed learning materials, interacted with field staff and volunteers asking many questions. I was impressed with the training and dedication of the volunteer tutors who are local young girls trained by Pratham, the interactive teaching method, the Pratham books and teaching tools, the hands-on learning with use of games, the assessment and progress tracking of each child in the program, the openness of the staff to share information with me and answer my questions, and the bright curious faces of the children. This is why I invest my time and money in Pratham.
India is home to 100 million children of ages 6-14 at risk of dropping out of school and spending their lives without knowing their letters and numbers. Pratham reaches 5 million of those every year to ensure that not only they stay in school but also learn well. Pratham Austin’s goal is to raise $100,000 to support 5000 of these children, not an impossible task, given Austin is home to over 15,000 Indians, most of them living well. Towards this goal, Pratham Austin has planned its Annual Gala 2012 on the theme BET ON INDIA’S FUTURE, an evening of food and entertainment, to be held on Saturday September 29 at 6:30 pm. at the UT Alumni Center, 2110 San Jacinto Blvd. Dr. Rukmini Banerji, Pratham Director in charge of research, evaluation, and ASER Center, will share her experience as the keynote speaker. For sponsorship information, please contact Devanshi Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are available at http://austin.prathamusa.org.