Over 300 million people in India are illiterate — one of the largest populations in the world — and among the more than 130 million children in primary schools, over half are not able to read and write at their grade levels. Yet, a literate, and in today’s times, a digitally literate population, is key to India's development and economic empowerment.
Is it really impossible to realize this dream? To have an India where every child reads and writes at their grade level and every individual is literate?
Room to Read India's Literacy Program is the country's only children’s education program that develops both literacy skills and reading habits. Our Girls’ Education Program supports girls to finish secondary school and works with government stakeholders to advocate for girls' education.
A core component of our Literacy Program in India is our reading instruction. Our students can read more than three times as many words by the end of grade 2 than peers in non-Room to Read program government schools. Impressed with this achievement, the state governments of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh have invited us to implement our early grade program at scale in their states for five academic years. We began with a pilot partnership in 360 schools across the two states in 2015 and began scaling the model across 1,000 schools in the two states in 2016. Part of our work will enable these governments to implement literacy interventions statewide, benefiting close to 4 million children in the long run.
In order to constantly improve our program, we collect data to help us understand what works. In India we recently commissioned an independent study, interviewing parents, teachers and the girls to understand how our program increases girls’ motivation to study, their desire to stay in school, and their life skills competency. Alongside these key program outcomes, interviews revealed that girls in our program gain confidence and set new, brave goals for themselves.
In a first for us and the global community, Room to Read is evaluating its Girls’ Education Program with a randomized controlled trial taking place in Rajasthan, India from 2016-2018. The evaluation will use innovative methods to assess the impact of our program through girls’ life skills and on their academic progression over two years. The study will provide invaluable information by assessing the impact of a particular life skills program as well as informing best practices in life skills measurement.
Second grade students in Literacy Program schools in India read more than 3 times as fast as students in nearby control schools.
Of the 2014 Girls' Education Program graduates in India, 84% enrolled in tertiary education the next year.