Mumbai, 5th January 2012: Eros Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Eros International Media Ltd (EIML), a leading global company in the Indian film entertainment industry has announced an association with Pratham, the largest non-governmental organization in India, to provide quality education to underprivileged children in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Through the alliance, Eros Foundation will support large-scale Literacy and Numeracy Excellence programmes in over two hundred villages across the two states as well as provide training for five hundred village volunteers who will deliver support directly to the children in their villages.
Pratham has been running similar programmes for over fifteen years. Eros Foundation joins them in their flagship programme, Read India, which aims to improve the reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills of the children between the ages of six and fourteen. Even though India has made significant strides in improving the enrollment levels of the children, a lot still needs to be done as far as the learning levels are concerned. Many of these children have had no access to basic primary education, or have had little access to learning. Almost all of them are underachieving and are unable to reach age appropriate standards in basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills.
Eros Foundation will associate with Pratham to work on two large block programmes. These have been named as Pratham – Eros Excellence programmes and will target the neediest children in the Tapi district of Gujarat and the Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra. The programmes will reach out to approximately 8000 children in all. In addition to the children and the village volunteers, the Foundation will also fund for a dedicated, full time resource team who will ensure the successful implementation of the programmes.
In order to support whole villages, the programmes train young people from within the village, to deliver the teaching in addition to any primary education the children are receiving. At least two volunteers join the scheme from each village. In this way, both children and young adults work together for the benefit of the village. Their experience so far has had amazing results – both for the young children who are being supported as well as the village volunteers.
One feature of this programme is that the volunteers do not receive payment in cash but get instead “Education for Education”, which means that they get additional targeted training in job finding skills, in ICT skills and in English skills, too. This approach means that everyone wins – and the village benefits as a result of the young people not leaving to flood the cities.
Looking to the future of this project, Pratham has emphasized that they want to develop their current methodology to ensure that all underachievers are targeted with high quality support. They would like to develop the programmes using the skills and knowledge of Eros Foundation’s Education Director, Kaushi Silva, who, as a UK Head teacher and an international school inspector, has experience of working with learners in countries such as the UK, Egypt, the Emirates, Thailand and across India. Together, the two entities hope to develop a new, personalised programme to support these young children and the village volunteers.
Speaking on the association, Vinati Sukhdev, Executive Director, Pratham UK said, “Pratham is delighted to be working in close partnership with Eros Foundation to raise educational attainment standards in two blocks in rural India. Kaushi Silva of Eros Foundation is an educationist who will bring her vast experience and skills to the partnership while we will provide the local knowledge and resources. It is a unique opportunity to make the Pratham Eros Blocks of Excellence – par excellence!”
Kaushi Silva, Education Director, Eros Foundation added, “We are pleased to be working with Pratham, not only to support their current work but also to help develop a targeted support programme for the neediest of children and young people. I have visited a few Read India programmes in Maharashtra already and have been impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of the students and the staff. We look forward to an ongoing partnership between our two organizations”.