Pratham's program for Grade 1-2 (with children in the first two years of primary school), is based on a comprehensive framework for literacy and numeracy instruction, intended not only to help young children gain literacy and numeracy skills, but also to build and sustain reading and writing as a life skill. In some locations, this program is conducted by Pratham instructors in school and in other locations it is a community-based intervention. (This program is also referred to as "Balvachan".)

(The programs conducted by Pratham instructors are outlined here. There are other programs in which Pratham partners with governments at state and district levels where teachers implement early grade learning programs with children in Grade 1-2. The details of such partnerships are described in the government partnership section.)
Ten years of data from ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) point to three key facts: First, at every grade level, basic learning levels are unacceptably low. Second, over time learning levels seem to be "stuck". If anything, there are some indications of a declining trend, implying that later cohorts are doing worse than earlier counterparts. Third, learning trajectories over time are relatively flat.

This suggests that if children do not acquire fundamental skills early on, they are unlikely that to pick them up later. All of this leads to the simple fact that basic foundational skills are essential for moving ahead meaningfully through the school system or indeed through life. The first two years of a child's life in school are crucial for laying this foundation.
The program is based on learnings from a research and development project that was implemented in Dadri and Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, from July 2013 to May 2016. The current "direct" intervention with children in Grade 1 and 2 is conducted by a Pratham team member. Depending on the context, instructional activity may be done with children of Grade 1 or 2 or a mixed group of both classes. Typically, activities are carried out either daily or several times a week; the intervention lasts a full school year, and is divided into 2 phases: a warm-up phase of about 1 to 2 months followed by a period of 6 months or more of direct instructional activities.

Warm-Up Phase: Most rural children, especially those in government schools, enter school without much home support for learning or prior preparation for school readiness. Hence, in the first few months of the year the focus is on getting children ready for school and for classroom learning activities. During this warm-up phase, the Pratham instructor carries out a series of activities that help gauge what children can do easily and what they are struggling with. The instructor spends most of the time in this phase on building the child's readiness for school, readiness for class and on readiness for learning. Pre-literacy and pre-numeracy activities are also done.

Direct instructional activities: During this phase a set of activities for developing literacy and numeracy skills are conducted on a daily basis. These activities build children's listening abilities, ability to discuss what they have heard, word reading strategies, phonological awareness, vocabulary and the ability to put down thoughts on paper. Numeracy activities build on number sense, operations, dealing with word problems in math and estimation. Along with direct instructional activities in big and small groups, the program aims to build a supportive environment for literacy, language and numeracy development. This includes creating a print rich environment; using appropriate reading materials and books; creating reading corners and activity corners; and engaging mothers to facilitate learning at home.
Reach and Scale
In 2016-17, activities for Grade 1 and 2 (early years program) was carried out in locations in 11 states of India and reached out to about 18,218 children directly.
State Number of units Number of children reached
Andhra Pradesh 124 3201
Himachal Pradesh 20 398
Karnataka 40 1076
Maharashtra 20 464
Rajasthan 66 3085
Tamil Nadu 40 749
Telangana 114 3154
Uttar Pradesh 50 1310
Uttarakhand 20 488
West Bengal 34 622
Delhi 139 3671
Total 667 18218
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In 2013-14, a Research and Development project was launched in Dadri, U.P to build a comprehensive literacy and numeracy instructional package and assessment framework for children in early grades. Read more here: http://www.asercentre.org/education/schooling/p/182.html
Reports and Media
Comprehensive Model Building early literacy and numeracy