Primary Education: AVPN

1.5 million public schools
260 million enrolments
India – the world’s largest and most complex education system in the world.

With learning quality still being poor, multiple stakeholders – the government, charitable organisations, private funders, corporate entities — are all collaborating to bring about systemic transformation in the way education is delivered, in order to improve learning outcomes for millions of children.
You can also learn more about the current challenges, interventions and funding landscape in education in India in our report “Funding Education with Impact

Framework: How do you effectively measure the impact of CSR initiatives in education?

Education is one of the cornerstones for building an equitable and empowered society.

In recent decades, India has made tremendous progress in ensuring universal access to elementary education. 98% of India’s population today has access to a primary school within a kilometer of their homes. With the Right to Education Act, 2008, that makes free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years a fundamental right, enrolment rates have also increased significantly (96% of all children in India enroll in schools). Yet access and enrollment success are no markers of learning outcomes. According to the ASER report 2014, the English and Math skills of school students is very poor and has declined in comparison with previous years. The ASER report records that less than half the children in Grade 5 can even read a Grade 2 textbook and only a quarter can perform division.

Education is a key focus area for Corporations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. According to a recent study, 78 of the top 100 companies in India are supporting at least one program on school education. However, the same study reveals that there is not enough focus on direct interventions that can improve learning outcomes.

The renewed focus on CSR under Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 provides fresh impetus for organizations to address the missing gaps in the Indian education ecosystem. A crucial step in furthering efforts in this direction is a robust Impact assessment framework that can help organizations not only measure their Impact but also steer their focus to the right intervention areas in education.

Impact Assessment: Going from proving to improving

Social Impact assessment has its roots in Government measures that were designed to understand the Impact of public service programs in the United States in the 1950s. Over the years venture philanthropists, foundations and social investors have invested effort in furthering these guidelines into establishing sector-wide standards and building rigor in the way social organizations measure Impact.

However, Impact assessment in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives is still at a nascent stage. Sattva’s conversations with leading Corporations confirm that existing initiatives focus predominantly on standard assessment metrics and qualitative evidence to gather Impact. Certain organizations that have taken a rigorous approach towards Impact assessment have implemented large-scale, one-time programs that are effort intensive and do not provide an ongoing view of Impact on the ground.

Sattva firmly believes that Impact assessment initiatives should be holistic [A holistic impact assessment exercise will focus on the impact of the CSR initiatives on the company, community and implementation partners. However, the focus of this document is on the impact on the community – particularly in education, on the students and the schools] and extend focus beyond proving Impact on the ground to helping the organization and the implementation partners [ improve their implementation and Impact. Such an approach should focus on measurable Impact on the ground, make actionable recommendations and integrate with ongoing operations to ensure that there is continuous improvement.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach in Impact assessment, Sattva recommends a phased approach that helps the organization build their Impact assessment models inline with the scale of the CSR investment.

A holistic Impact Assessment framework

Following are some of the key tenets of Sattva’s approach to Impact assessment

1.Build a model that helps the organization understand the social return on investment of its CSR initiatives and provide a steering model to sharpen its focus

2.Take a phased approach towards Impact assessment that evolves based on the maturity of the CSR initiatives and helps the organization incrementally build the system and understanding of the same within the organization

3.Evolve the partnership between organizations and the implementation partners from that of a funder seeking evidence of Impact to that of a collaborator using an objective, data-driven approach to maximize impact

4.Engage business leadership on the impact on the ground through rigorous CSR reporting

5.Combine quantitative data on indicators with strong qualitative inputs to contextualize numbers and gain a deeper understanding

Impact Assessment: A phased approach

An organization should focus on measuring three types of indicators related to its CSR initiatives [The exact table of outputs, outcomes and impact will be based on the interventions on the ground].

The current education system already has standard metrics such as pass percentage and subject-wise performance of students that can be used as outcome and Impact indicators. In addition, the CSR implementation could have specific outcomes and Impact indicators to measure aspects such as utilization of resources or motivation of stakeholders that will require additional effort and rigor if they are to be measured effectively. These specific indicators provide greater visibility to the organization of the on-ground of their CSR initiative.

Sattva recommends that the organisation takes a phased approach wherein the impact assessment model evolves along with the CSR initiative.

You can download the complete casestudy here for detailed phases of the framework and how they can be implemented.

Can technology-based learning improve employment rates in India?

This is the first blog in a two-part blog series on a program developed by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Sattva Consulting to expand English-language skills to address employment challenges in India. This blog will focus on the challenge this program aims to address, how the program was developed, and how the outcomes of the program will be measured.

When Madhu Kumari travelled to Bangalore from Jharkhand for a vocational training course at Unnati in December 2017, she barely spoke a few words of English. However, 50 days later, she is now working at HDB, a non-banking subsidiary of HDFC bank, as a call center employee. Madhu’s customer-facing role requires English proficiency – a skill that Madhu learned through her hard work with Unnati’s technology-led program.

When Madhu started studying at Unnati, she needed skills to increase her chances of employment – and she isn’t alone. The Government of India worked with research company Aspiring Minds to conduct the National Employability Report-Graduates 2013 study. The study revealed that nearly half of Indian college graduates are considered unemployable because of their English language and cognitive skills. A college degree is supposed to be a pathway to employment and stability. But in India, where 55 percent of the population is under 30 years old, a lack of English-speaking skills is standing in the way of success.

Solving this challenge can be complicated. For many families, it isn’t as simple as getting an English-language tutor or enrolling their kids in English classes. High-quality English teachers are often hard to find and too expensive to retain for low-income families. Even families who can afford an instructor find it difficult to sustain lessons because of an in-person, classroom-based teaching model that leaves many students behind who cannot attend courses because of work and family responsibilities. That’s where our project comes in.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation partnered with Sattva Consulting to identify organizations like Unnati that are working to help youth in India gain employment. While major employers in India agree that English proficiency is important for their customer-facing and administrative entry level positions, many existing employment programs do not include English-language lessons in their models.

In her journey to find employment, Madhu chose to attend Unnati’s short-term vocational training programs. Students are placed in jobs at the end of their training courses. The organization’s focus is primarily on providing technical skills development for retail and administration jobs. With the help of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Sattva, Unnati added a technology-led English-language proficiency program as a new part of their employment training program. The goal of the English-language program is to provide:

Personalized learning for each student based on their current English-language knowledge and skills, as opposed to a one-size fits-all approach, and
Content that can be accessed at the student’s convenience.
Three other organizations like Unnati have been identified as partners, with hopes to create a comprehensive program across India to provide apps and other technologies to help teach English-language skills to improve employability of students. The purpose of the program is to find the extent to which technology solutions can be effective language learning tools. It aims to find apps and learning models that can be scaled across different learning environments.

The main questions that this program will seek to answer include:

Do technology-based solutions help improve the Spoken English Skills (SES) of youth between the age of 18 and 22?
What specific capabilities and features have the highest impact on improved skill outcomes in youth?
Does improved SES result in increased chances of employment?
The program started in August 2017 and will run for two years in six states, impacting approximately 15,000 students across the country. The participants of the program are all students in their final year of college who are between the ages of 18 and 22.

In our next blog post, we will share the feedback and lessons we learned directly from Madhu and her classmates at Unnati, and how those lessons ladder up to larger insights into how we develop and implement technology-based solutions to improve SES across India.

Sulagna Datta is a Senior Consultant with Sattva Consulting. She leads design, implementation and delivery of strategic projects in the areas of Education, Sports and Skill Development for employability. Before joining Sattva, she was an investment research analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Avijit Arya is an Associate Consultant with Sattva Consulting. His areas of focus are data analysis, program management and monitoring of projects. Prior to joining Sattva Consulting, he worked towards improving learning outcomes in government schools in Rajasthan, India.

Originally published in

Funding Education with Impact – A Guide for Social Investment in India

A collaboration between Sattva Knowledge and AVPN, our report on Funding Education with Impact – A Guide for Social Investment in India is a practical and actionable guide for existing and potential funders in the Indian education space, to identify funding and partnership opportunities.


An international philanthropic foundation is looking to develop a technology-based scalable model to evaluate whether Spoken English Skills (SES) leads to an increase in employability of urban poor youth. We played a key role as implementation and programme management partners to help them deliver this programme on the ground for 7,000 students across six states.

We designed a technology-enabled programme to help the foundation reach its goal of creating a low-cost scalable model to improve English proficiency among college students. We started with a detailed study of technology-based solutions for English in the form of mobile apps, and then looked at products specifically catering to the job market. We shortlisted five technology partners based on the following parameters: alignment with the job seeker segment, ability to cater to scale, management capabilities, cost, interface, and specific features like gamification, incentivisation etc. The programme required students to speak in English for 15 minutes a day for three months leading to a consumption of 40 hours of technology-based content.
We then worked with four training partners working present in this segment to add our programme into their training modules as a supplement. Our application partners sent us weekly dashboards with data on time spent by students per week, content consumed per week, how often they logged in. The training partners helped us monitor their attendance in class. Post this we collected and analysed end results to assess levels of improvement with students.

This programme demonstrated that a technology-enabled training model can be used as a low-cost method to scale and be replicated by others in the ecosystem. Through our efforts at designing, implementing and managing it, we gained several insights into the segment which are useful points for anyone who wants to adopt this model. We observed that this population of college students was extremely conscious of data usage and therefore the apps we selected needed to have offline functionality. Also, most students preferred gamification as this motivated them to compete with classmates. The foundation had a two-pronged vision through this programme – one was to make students more employable and second to create a scalable model covering an entire state.

States covered: Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan
Scale: 7,000 students
Technology Partners: 5
On-Ground Training Partners: 4


A social change organisation is working in the field of education with the intent to transform the quality in public schools. The systemic transformation plan required providing leadership training to school principals as well as education officers to create a long lasting impact. The solutions had to prepare the organisation to ensure quality delivery at scale for 6,00,000 government schools. Sattva has been working as a key strategic advisor to this organisation and is helping co- create solutions for standardised quality delivery of their flagship Principal Leadership Development Program and newly introduced District and State Transformation Programmes. The approach was to bring together the current strengths of their on the ground workforce & ongoing interventions to build scalable , effective and impactful solutions.

Sattva’s association with the organisation started with smaller individual projects. In January 2017, we entered into a strategic advisory partnership with the foundation, to co-create a blueprint for quality delivery at scale for 600,000 schools.
We helped them align the core objective of improving the Student Learning Outcomes(SLO) for interventions across the organization across various operations. We helped design a multi-level capability maturity model for the 10 key interventions for development of schools through critical milestones at various stages. We led the co-creation of an organization-wide technology platform through a mobile based application to ensure easy collaboration for fellows (this organisation runs a significant and sough-after fellowship programme) to map their journey across 5000+ schools and gather data analytics for monitoring and evaluation purpose.

The Maturity model and the Journey app is being further used by various government schools, NGOs in the ecosystem to map their leadership development initiatives. Our combined efforts helped the organization to structure the products around solutioning for various stakeholders at all levels, starting from teachers all the way to the middle managers in the education ecosystem. The foundation is now a reputed name in the field of education working across states and districts to replicate this model to 6,00,000 schools in the future in line with its overall vision.

● Capability maturity model for 10 key interventions for school development across stages through milestones
● Product creation: Journey app for 5000+schools in PLDP and DTP which can be replicated across 6,00,000 schools
● Number of people impacted: 5000+ schools, 500+ fellows
● Interventions planned across 12 states covered in STP – Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh