Interesting non-profit literacy projects in India

1. 40K Foundation – Plus Pods : 40K Foundation runs an after-school education program for children in Karnataka, India utilizing electronic tablets and gamified learning – currently supported by donations and 40K Globe and 40K Consulting income.  40K PLUS pods are dynamic learning spaces in local villages for children of primary school age. Kids come after school for 2 hours per day for tuition in literacy, numeracy and life skills. They’ve built a digital curriculum that is taught through android-based tablets to encourage self-paced learning. They hire local ladies who live in the village to teach the program. The families sending their kids to 40K PLUS pay $1/month. 40K Plus encourages peer to peer learning among students and a tablet is shared between 3-4 children.

Focus: Self learning

Subjects: English, Math & Life Skills

Levels ( Grades ): Primary School

Network: Learner-Learner

Users ( # ): 281 in 2013, 10 villages

Date ( Est. ): 2007

Website: 40K Plus Website


Founders: Clary Castrission and Karyn Avery

2. Reading for a Billion: Same Language Subtitling on Television for Mass Literacy: Started in 2006, with support from the Google Foundation, SLS was implemented on ten TV channels with subtitles in ten different languages (same language as the audio). The SLS project targets the 300 million early-literate population in India with access to television (mostly women).

Focus: Native language literacy

Levels ( Grades ): Early-literate population mostly women

Network: Learner-Learner

Link to the paper :


Founder: Brij Kothari

Implementing Organizations: PlanetRead and IIM Ahmedabad

Funded by : Short-term funding from Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Dell Giving, Development Marketplace (World Bank), Google Foundation, and Department of School Education and Literacy

3. Early Literacy Project: Funded by Ratan Tata Trust, works with children of Ajmer district in Rajasthan. They teach Marwari initially before they transition to Hindi.

In Class 1 the ELP intervention focuses on the developing the following:

1. Phonological processes for exploring and building awareness of:

  1. Sound units within spoken language, especially awareness of sounds corresponding to the alpha- syllables.
  2. The sound – symbol relationships within written language

2. The processes of meaning construction for understanding of the sound – symbol- meaning relationships within written language, so that children are able to experience meaningless alphabets and syllables as parts of meaningful written words.

For classes 2 and 3: 
Development of a facilitative print environment in the classroom for the slightly more advanced level readers and writers with a focus on:

  1. Strengthening reading and writing with understanding
  2. Facilitating active engagement with various kinds of print in a variety of meaningful, natural ways.

Focus: Language literacy: reading & writing

Subjects: Hindi

Access: In classroom

Network:  Teachers-Student, student-student


Program Partners: Indian Government (through the Department of Education); UNESCO, Plan International (India), Barefoot College

4. Children’s Lovecastles Trust’s e-Patashale (Karnatka): Children’s Lovecastles Trust’s e-Patashale initiative is a integrated technology-aided curricula-based learning program for the State Board Schools teachers, by the teachers. The content is localized, keeping the rural background of most of the children in government schools.

Focus: Content, learning, reading, science experiments.
Use: Animation, Videos
Subjects: Maths, Science, English
Access: In classroom
Network: Teachers-Teachers, Teachers-Student
Date ( Est. ): 2011

Program partners: FICCI, USAID, Department of Education Karnataka, Microsoft Research Foundation, Cisco Foundation, Cisco Networks Bangalore, Intel Foundation, Intel Bangalore, Michel Bearings, British Engine, Asha U.S.A, National University of Singapore, Jakkur Community, Computer Clubhouse Network: MIT Media Lab & Boston Museum of Science.

5.  The Vodafone Foundation: Vodafone is a grant making organisation. 75% of the grant goes to mobile related social change in four areas : m-women, m-education, m-health and m-agriculture. For example: women & health: maternal health, girls education: digital literacy and livelihood etc.

25% Disaster relief. In case of natural disaster communication is the first thing to break. As part of their social investment program, they focus on providing immediate humanitarian assistance in case of natural disasters and emergencies, and providing critical support to the NGO sector.


  • Vodafone Foundation’s “Mobile for Good” program:  it is strategic focus on education in India, the Vodafone Foundation in collaboration with Pratham Education Foundation has committed for 3 years to provide learning solutions for underprivileged children across India. Learning with Vodafone Solution uses innovative software developed by the Vodafone Solutions Team (Innovations Centre) combined with the liberating effects of mobile technology. It enables teachers to improve the classroom experience with rich graphical and multi-media content coupled with innovative methods of teaching. With this, students get to explore learning via the internet in an interactive and engaging manner. Since its launch in 2012, the project has touched over 79,000 children in 1000 low-income schools across 12 states in India.
  • Project with young women: They are also going to work with young girls who dropped out of the school to get married and are now around the age of 25. At this age, girls have significant say in their families, most of them have kids of the age 6-7. The project is to give them the opportunity to start new and learn again.
  • Sponsors Magic Bus: Magic Bus aims at increasing the youth’s awareness in the areas of health, gender and education by engaging them in sporting activities under their Sports For Development philosophy. Current reach out : 250,000 children.
  • BreakThrough & selfies for school. They recently worked with BreakThrough on mobile based fun solution and sponsored Rs. 60 lakhs toward 100,000 girls school education. For every selfie people took and posted on twitter/instagram using #selfie4school, they sponsored education of 10 girls.
  • Red Rickshaw Revolution. Journey of DigitalRickshaw (25th Nov-1st Dec) spaned across 7 states to meet 20 women Sarpanches who had done phenomenal work in their communities, with a key focus on Women Empowerment and Digital Literacy.  Center will set up computers, tablets and 2 staff members for full time for next 2 years. Focus is on e/m-governance.

 5.  Educational Innovations Bank: The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is implementing a project titled ‘Educational Innovations Bank’ that also aims to make available good quality content to children studying in government schools ( The project is a completely non-commercial venture and its goals are purely educational.

Focus: Content, learning, science, management system

Use: Animation, Videos

Subjects: Maths, Science, English

Access: In classroom

Network: Teachers-Teachers, Teachers-Student


Program partners: Gujarat Educational Innovations CommissionGujarat Council of Educational Research and Training, State Innovation Research Foundation Solapur Maharashtra, SRISTI & Honey Bee Network, Ahmedabad, Education Innovation Fund for India, HP, ICIE (a unit of the Sri Aurobindo Society).

6. Zaya:  Zaya provides supplemental education to children ages 6 to 13 years old with their afterschool learning “Labs”. Primarily focus is on the bottom of the pyramid children.They are currently powering 20 learning labs inside schools and orphanages India, Indonesia and Mongolia.

INITIATIVES: Two main initiatives :

  1. Educational WIFI Hotspots: Each Hotspot has a 10-hour power supply and is PRE-LOADED with the best online content and powered by their adaptive learning platform. Includes a projector and tablets that can work anywhere in the World. Hotspots are small enough to fit in a backpack, making it easy for teachers and community leader to carry them home at the end of the day. When they are able to connect to the Internet, the hotspot will automatically synchronize with Zaya’s main servers, downloading new content and uploading student and teacher usage data. * The data they collect provides a feedback loop and a level of accountability rarely achievable at the “last mile”. They can see data on the quality of teaching, how each student is progressing and even things like knowing how many people watched a health video and if they understood it.
  2.  Zaya Learning Labs & Micro Franchise Model: After-school, blended learning program called ZAYA LEARNING LABS. Through a unique micro franchise and hub and spoke model they are empowering women to own and operate a ZAYA LEARNING LAB in their own home. They provide them will all the training and technology they need for free – all they need to do is recruit and teach children. Students pay a small fee ($6 per month in India) for the classes (or the monthly fees are subsidized by donors/sponsor organizations).

7.  Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, Bangladesh : A fleet of flat-bottomed boats, all made with locally available materials, that make their way through shallow rivers and canals to bring a range of educational services & renewable energy supplies to water-side families.

The boats generate all the electricity they need to deliver primary education, libraries, training in sustainable agriculture, health advice, mobile phone & Internet access + battery charging facilities for solar lanterns. Serving some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in Bangladesh where transport is limited and schools get flooded at monsoon time.


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