The Latest

Scaling Quality Literacy Programs Across India

July 01, 2019

Literacy India

In 2014, 36 percent of the world's illiterate population resided in India. Since then, that figure has declined year over year thanks to a heightened focus on quality education.

Committed to improving literacy rates in India in partnership with the government, Room to Read and USAID embarked on a five-year project known as SERI, Scaling-up Early Reading Intervention, to improve foundational literacy of children on a wider scale and ensure more children by the end of grade two can read fluently. Since its start in 2015, the project has scaled across four states in India: Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, reaching more than 300,000 children in more than 2,600 primary schools.

“Room to Read’s impact evaluation in India showed that children in SERI partnership schools in Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are reading up to two times faster with increased comprehension than those in comparable non-intervention schools. These are exciting results and show that our model is both programmatically effective and able to be implemented in partnership with the government.” –Pinaki Joddar, Associate Director, Global Literacy Research Monitoring & Evaluation

SERI by the Numbers:

  • A five-year program from 2015-2020

  • Scaling across Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh

  • 2,662 School Reached

  • 300,000 Children Benefited

  • 10,103 Teachers Trained

  • 1,093,000 Books Distributed
Scaling Early Grade Literacy in India
News Copy with Callout

How to Scale Literacy Country-Wide


The SERI project is a prime example of how Room to Read's educational methodologies can be shared widely to spark systemic change. The project consisted of three phases: the first phase is I DO or “Demonstration” – where Room to Read demonstrates and implements its comprehensive literacy model in select schools. The second phase is WE DO or “Collaboration” phase where, in partnership with the government, the model is scaled up in a larger number of schools. In the final stage, YOU DO or “Expansion”, the government is expected to take the SERI principles and scale it across the state with their own resources.

The program's success wouldn't have been possible without working closely with the government at all stages. Thanks to this consistent engagement, Room to Read was able to build the capacity of key government staff and institutions on early grade literacy curriculum, trainings and assessments. Government Resource Groups, formed in each of these four states, helped contextualize the model to each region’s needs, enhancing effectiveness.

Government school teachers also played a pivotal role in the SERI project, implementing the structured lesson plans developed under the project, and continuously assessing the students. To train teachers on the new pedagogy, Room to Read hosted an intensive workshop for a pool of master-trainers in each state who later trained teachers in their respective states.


Soaring Above Expectations


The joint effort has already exceeded its scaling up targets, going from just 180 demonstration schools in two states to 2,662 schools in four states. Final results showed that the project was able to achieve the same impact at a lower cost, when scaled up in partnership with the government, proving the effectiveness of Room to Read Accelerator.


Inside the SERI Conference

Room to Read India hosted an insightful two-day conference in December of 2018 where education practitioners from across the country gathered to share knowledge. Discussions featured Room to Read's Chief Program Officer, Heather Simpson, and eminent experts like Dr. Luis Crouch who provides high-level advice to governments involved in complex educational systems, along with renowned economist, Dr. Rukmini Banerjee, and founder and director of Language and Learning Foundation, Dr. Dhir Jhingran.

Room to Read's Literacy Program Directors from Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal also shared their experiences, inviting guests to learn about educational challenges and solutions being implemented around the world.

Want to learn more about our work in India?

Stay connected with our local team on Facebook here: