Pratham was born out of a 1994 project, Pratham Mumbai Education Initiative, in collaboration with UNICEF to link the government, corporate sector, and civil society for providing quality education in Mumbai. With the mission, “Every Child in School and Learning Well," the goal was to provide universal pre-primary and primary education in Mumbai and make quality education more accessible to all sections of society.
Pratham focuses on high-quality, low-cost, and sustainable interventions to address gaps in the education system. The word "Pratham" means "first" in Sanskrit and, rightfully, they hold multiple firsts when it comes to imparting education, compiling status reports, and framing policies for decision-makers to act upon.
Today, Pratham is one of the largest NGOs in India with a presence in almost every state and union territory. With flagship programs like the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), vocational training arms like Pratham Skilling, and initiatives started to address the findings from ASER, the organization aims for the overall development of children and youth in India.
Some of their prominent work include:
The ASER, or Annual Status of Education Report, is a survey that reaches every household in rural India to collect and assess data on children's schooling and education outcomes. The voluntary participation for the ASER spans across 500+ organizations and 25,000+ volunteers and covers more than 15,000 households and 650,000 children each year. The ASER survey is the only one of its kind in India and plays a significant role in shaping education policy in the country.
This is the vocational training arm of Pratham that trains people between ages 18 and 25 from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to set them up for employment, entrepreneurship, and overall development.
Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC)
This is the child protection wing of Pratham. With the vision of "Every Child's Rights Protected, Every Child in School and Learning Well," PCVC works to educate children who are in risky situations like substance abuse, children who are victims of sexual abuse, and children belonging to the most marginalized communities who are prone to child labor.
Through various schemes aimed at bringing quality education to the underprivileged, Pratham reinforces the gaps in the education system by supporting preschool learning, facilitating digital classrooms, empowering women, and through international collaborations.
Pratham managed their programs on spreadsheets. Every data point was injected, stored, manipulated, and tracked for field work on spreadsheets. We had a conversation with Anant Mani, who heads the Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) at Pratham wherein he talked about how, as part of their strategy, they decided to scale up the entrepreneurship program which included upskilling the youth, tracking their job applications, and placements.
"Due to the complexity of our entrepreneurship program and also because of the multiple datasets and tracking points, we were finding it difficult to use spreadsheets. Unless the person had really good expertise with Google Sheets, it was really difficult for us to track applications," he said.
Being an NGO, human and financial resources for a full-fledged software application were always constricted at Pratham. To top it all, huge amounts of paper were being wasted which sent Mani and the team looking for solutions that were customizable, easy to get started with, and sustainable for the long term.
At an organization as big as Pratham, it's always important to have tools that can be scaled and customized with every turn in the process. So, Pratham turned to Zoho Creator to build apps to facilitate better data collection, analysis, and report making to save time and effort for all the stakeholders.
“Each program at Pratham is like a startup with a broad vision and multiple ideas, but no fixed SOPs until the structure and design of the processes are fixed. So, when you have that kind of field operations and customizations involved, full-stack solutions were a big NO for us.”
Anant Mani, Program Head, Pratham
Pratham is now using Zoho Creator applications for:
Accurate data management
It was difficult for field workers who are less familiar with technology to upload data to spreadsheets. This increased both data entry errors and the number of duplicate records. The graphical UI and error-limiting features like tool tips and help texts on Zoho Creator helped the field work at Pratham.
The applications are used to track operations across various programs at Pratham, especially in the skill and entrepreneurship wing.
Data analysis and report making
Each program at Pratham deals with 1,000+ individuals. The dashboards and reports in Zoho Creator are used by the organization to analyze data, visualize it using charts, and make cross-table reports.
The mobile capability of applications comes in handy for field workers who have to upload and update data points at short intervals and keep the system up to date.
Benefits and ROI
Time and effort
With easier data migration and data handling, Pratham's operations were faster and more efficient with Zoho Creator.
No paper, no carbon footprint
With a switch to low-code applications, Pratham was able to eliminate their use of paper. From web-based applications for offices and mobile ones for field workers, everything is becoming more sustainable for the organization.
“Working with spreadsheets, it took me four days to analyze data of 1,000+ individuals and create a report for the same. After implementing the application on Zoho Creator, with dashboards and reports, we were able to get the data analysis done within two to four hours.”
Anant Mani, Program Head, Pratham