India boasts a high school enrolment rate, but the learning levels of children have remained worryingly low for years, exacerbated by pandemic-related school closures. To address this, initiatives like Pratham Education Foundation’s “CAMaL ka Camp” have harnessed the power of youth volunteers during summer holidays. By employing the effective teaching-at-the-right-level (TaRL) approach, this program aims to close learning gaps and improve reading and math skills as children transition from primary to middle school.
Empowering Youth Volunteers for Education Support
As the pandemic disrupted learning, the urgency to bridge the learning gap in India became even more apparent. Pratham’s “CAMaL ka Camp” initiative focused on enlisting youth volunteers in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh to dedicate their time to help Grade 5 students acquire fundamental reading and math skills as they transitioned to Grade 6. The program leveraged Pratham’s renowned teaching-at-the-right-level (TaRL) methodology, known for its success in addressing learning crises.
The Power of Youth Volunteerism
The response to the campaign was overwhelming, with more than 300,000 youth volunteers joining from high schools, colleges, and various youth programs. These volunteers embraced the opportunity to “give back” to their communities, while also gaining valuable skills, confidence, and recognition. The majority of volunteers were young women, highlighting their active role in driving social impact beyond their homes.
Innovative Approaches for Learning
The summer camp employed various techniques to enhance learning. “Kahani train,” a series of daily audio stories shared through WhatsApp, engaged children in discussions and vocabulary exercises. To strengthen arithmetic skills, daily math problems were provided. The program’s impact on reading and arithmetic skills will be assessed through data from end-line assessments.
Scaling Up for National Impact
Pratham’s successful initiative demonstrates the potential of leveraging India’s demographic advantage to address learning gaps and maximize the demographic dividend. With a cost of only ₹8 per child, this program has the potential to be scaled up nationwide, utilizing the free time of Indian youth and meeting the learning support needs of children.