Foundational Learning for Every Child

Did you know that more than two out of three students in class 3 to 5 in Jalna cannot do basic mathematical operations or that more than half of these students cannot read a simple paragraph in Marathi. Even though almost all children are enrolled in schools, most of them do not learn much in schools.

Without foundational literacy and numeracy by the end of primary school, any benefits from additional years of education are lost. If a child does not know basic skills by class 5, it’s unlikely she will gain them later and the learning gaps will keep widening. This increases the chances of these students dropping out of school or not pursuing higher education. Hence it's important to achieve foundational learning for all children.

Foundational learning improves life outcomes. It is directly related to higher chances of succeeding in further education, training and ability to get jobs. Individuals with foundational learning are far more likely to succeed in vocational programs. With economic transformation even entry level jobs in all sectors require foundational learning. With higher foundational learning the productivity of the workforce would improve leading to higher GDP. Successful countries like Taiwan, China, Korea, Vietnam have reduced poverty and increased living standards for the population by focussing on educating their population better.

JEF Since 2008


Total number of student participated padho jalna


Total number of schools


Total number of JEF center


of student foundationally literate after program

Total number of work book free distributed

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Unfortunately, due to systemic reasons the Indian education system has failed a majority of its students. Higher teacher-student ratios, ill-designed curriculum, lack of regular assessments, and lack of household help for several children from underprivileged backgrounds are among the major reasons for this failure. Foundational learning which includes basic aspects like being able to do simple arithmetic operations and read simple text is a pipe dream for many. Most of our children who are enrolled in class VIII are effectively in class II based on their learning ability. We are depriving them of the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills or fully participate in society. The Covid-19 pandemic with its school closures has only exacerbated this problem. An overwhelming majority of children have experienced learning loss as a result of the long school closures. The learning levels have further deteriorated as a result of this in the last 1.5 years.

“Each additional year of schooling raises earnings by 8 to 10 percent”
- World Bank’s World Development Report 2018

Padho Jalna program aims to achieve foundational literacy and numeracy among children in Jalna. Working with local government, schools and teachers we have developed a comprehensive and scalable program that can achieve the goal of foundational learning for all. Building on extensive local knowledge, latest research and findings on large-scale education programs and appropriate technology we can deliver on this large-scale education reform. The key elements of the program are described below:

Impact of the Program

In our work over the last eight years we have documented large impacts of the initial versions of the Padho Jalna program. In the version of the Padho Jalna program where we provided support in terms of teaching-material and assessments without any para-teachers we have seen substantive improvement among students. We reached out to 30,000 students over eight years out of which 20,000 students did not have basic literacy and numeracy skills. At the end of the program, based on our final tests, 11,000 of the 20,000 students (55 percent) had foundational skills.

“Our highest priority must be to achieve universal foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) in primary school and beyond by 2025. The rest of the policy will be largely irrelevant for such a large portion of our students if this most basic learning (reading, writing, and arithmetic at the foundational level) is not first achieved.”
- National Education Policy, 2020

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