Foundations and billionaires help educate India’s ‘slum’ children

Foundations and billionaires help educate India’s ‘slum’ children

News (International)

Sixty million children from India’s slums will receive basic education in a hope "to end the cycle of poverty" and turn some into leaders, in a huge scale initiative funded by the Hewlett and Gates Foundations, and some of India’s richest individuals.

A $9.1m (£5.6m) gift to Pratham, India’s largest charity running the literacy and numeracy programme, is the first grant the Hewlett and Gates foundations have awarded in their new partnership to improve the quality of education in developing countries.

“We are pleased that Pratham’s Read India initiative is the first recipient of the collaboration between the Hewlett and Gates foundations,” Paul Brest, president of the Hewlett Foundation said. “The goal is to leverage the resources of both foundations to address a key barrier facing the poor - lack of genuine educational opportunities.”

In addition to the grant, fundraising efforts among super-wealthy Indians have been led by British-based billionaire Gopichand Hinduja. Other backers include film director Meera Sya and billionaires including Aditya Birla, Keshub Mahindra and Mukesh Ambani, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.

Pratham aims to use the grant money to improve basic learning skills in 100 districts of India, touching 10m children spread over 10 states for three years, and the charity said it is an important step in the efforts "to end the cycle of poverty perpetuated by illiteracy and poor education".

The project, which was launched in January, will be executed in two phases: first 'Learning to read' followed by 'Reading to learn'.

The grant will support rigorous assessment of the programme, as will a donation of $2m (£1.2m) from, the philanthropic arm of the search engine giant. Its donation will support an independent institute to conduct the Nationwide Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).

In 2005, the first-ever ASER provided data on basic reading and maths skills of rural children in India.

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