Katha: I Love Reading

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Katha: I Love Reading: Spread the joy of reading

New DelhiNew Delhi
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

I Love Reading is an innovative program to help India’s underserved children stay in school and complete their education by making learning fun, training teachers to be more engaging, and transforming schools!

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

"What if a story can transform the life of a underserved child?"
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

India’s RTE Act 2009 has given children the right to elementary education. Government has improved infrastructure, & enrolment has gone up. But much needs to be done to improve quality of learning. Dropout rates are very high & reading levels are dismal. The 2013 ASER, states that 47% of children in Standard V cannot read a Standard II level text and and 40% of children in Standard III cannot read a Standard I level text.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

1. Katha creates Reading Rooms in each MCD school & fills them with beautifully-illustrated Katha storybooks and other reading materials to entice children to read. 2. ILR includes a community reading program that helps children not enrolled in or irregularly attending school to gain/improve literacy skills 3. Train teachers to teach reading (as well as other subjects) with fun, innovative approaches and Katha’s Story Pedagogy. 4. Train teachers to engage children who are able to read using engaging activities that make children Think, Ask, Discuss and Act! 5. Create social circles (“reading leagues”) that enable peers and family members to encourage children to continue reading even when not in school.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Prerna Lives with her parents and 2 younger siblings in an underserved community in Delhi. She aims to become a teacher when she grows up. When Prerna first started with Katha teachers, she was unable to read most of the words in Hindi. After 1 year, the teachers found that she had improved and now was able to read simple sentence without much help. Another year with Katha teachers, saw prerna getting comfortable with not only reading but also starting to write simple words. Prerna has now finished 3 years with Katha and her teacher reports that she can now read fluently and is also started writing with ease.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Impact: Katha is implementing ILR in 88 govt primary schools & 248 slums reaching 160000 children & 1000 teachers this year. In 2013-14, Katha conducted a baseline assessment of 6,200 of the most “reading challenged” children from classes 1-5 across 75 MCD primary schools. Moreover, 99% of children in the baseline group were below the lowest level of reading on Katha’s assessment scale. After less than 1 year of Katha’s intervention, 100% of students in this group had improved their reading abilities, 18% attained grade level reading abilities. Future : In Delhi, over the course of the 5 year MOU we have with government till 2017, we expect to cumulatively reach approximately 300,000 children (direct beneficiaries) across 500 MCD primary schools & 500 slum communities. We estimate this based on our previous experience of being able to reaching about 600 children per slum community.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

ILR holds significant potential for widespread adoption within next few years. We aim to achieve this by partnering with other NGOs to run ILR & partnering with state governments for access to their primary schools. We are also piloting integration of basic computer skills training & eLearning into ILR program to further improve its cost effectiveness. Within Delhi, we plan to start partnering with & training NGOs to run ILR in 2015. We are also looking at expanding into other Indian states & other countries with low literacy levels through this model of capacity building other institutions.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Katha will exit each batch of MCD primary schools after 2 years. Since ILR includes a strong teacher training component, we will leave the MCD schools with a self-driven set of teachers who will carry the school transformation initiative and ILR forward after Katha’s exit. Also, since we mobilize, train and empower community youth volunteers to run reading leagues for their peers in their own communities, the reading leagues become community-owned after Katha’s intervention ends.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently no one is addressing this issue in the areas where Katha works.

Founding Story

Geeta Dharmarajan, the Founder of Katha, affected by the plight & sight of children begging at busy traffic junctions on the roads of Delhi and shocked by the standard of education in Delhi, started, in 1988, a health magazine for children. Called Tamasha! , this was a health and environment magazine that would enhance the joy of reading. But how could children love books if they could not read!! Katha Khazana a “deschool” was therefore set up in 1990 at Govindpuri, to cater to the children from predominantly non-literate families from economically backward communities. In order to attarct & retain and ensure their continuing interest in reading, a unique and innovative method of teaching through stories (story pedagogy), was introduced.


Katha has a team of 196 led by ED, Geeta Dharmarajn. Capable Core Competency Team (CCT) of 4 senior managers: the Assistant ED, the Development Director, the Chief Financial Accountant, the Operations Director and the Head of Publishing. Schools: Heads for different schools/education programmes supported by Vice Principals & coordinators. ILR project: Mentors & 2800 DOYTS (Delhi one Youth team) volunteers for community reading.
About You
About You
First Name


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About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

India, DL, New Delhi

Country where this project is creating social impact

India, DL, New Delhi

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, Businesses, Regional government.


• Katha’s founder and Executive Director, Mrs. Geeta Dharmarajan, is a recipient of the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors.
• Winner of the Millennium Alliance Award in 2013 (USAID and Government of India) for its innovative I Love Reading Campaign.
• 124 Katha book have been recommended by CBSE and NCERT, two eminent national education bodies.
• Winner of ICICI India Inclusive Award 2012 in the Elementary Education Impact Category.
• Katha has been nominated thrice for the world’s most coveted award in children’s literature – the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Primary Target Age Group

3 - 5, 6 - 12, 13 - 17, 18 - 35, 35+.

Your role in Education

Administrator, After-School Provider, Coach, Resource Officer, Social Worker, Teacher.

Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Private (tuition-based), Other.

Intervention Focus

Childcare, Curricular, Extracurricular, Professional Development, Community, Online Learning, Parenting, Products or Services.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Equip Adults to Drive Change in Learning: Providing creative learning experiences for teachers, parents, working professions and others that empowers them to drive change in any part of the learning ecosystem.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Whole child development is undervalued: Essential parts of development get left behind as children get older, such as healthy habits, executive function, and social and emotional learning.


ILR project in Delhi is supported by Delhi Government through SSA program. Katha wants to replicate this model in other states a


Katha welcomes other organisations for partnership. Katha can provide training & capacity building to the other organisations.

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

Katha believe in continuous assessment and monitoring of its initiatives. Tools and techniques have been developed to continuous track the students on the PAR (Performance. Attendance. Retention) parameters via quarterly contests and championships. I Love Reading creates an informal social environment in the class for evaluation of language skills attained by each team. The evaluation matrix at Katha is called RUCHI. Read. Use. Comprehend Holistically and Intuitively. This will ensure lateral as well as vertical linking of students from non-formal to the formal system.

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?
SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.
MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?
FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?
PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.
COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.
VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?
IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time
IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?

Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Number of Volunteers:

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.