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India has made remarkable progress towards universalizing primary education, but learning outcomes are poor. Current efforts to address this focus on improving primary education but ignore the preschool years. The evidence on the impact of preschool is overwhelming: this is when children learn critical skills that lay the foundation for success in primary school. 86% of children from low-income families – who constitute 70% of urban India – attend affordable private schools (APSs). These families invest ~6% of their income on private preschools despite the availability of free public options because they believe them to be of better quality. Unfortunately APSs use a rote based approach and learning outcomes are as poor as in government schools (e.g. in Class 1, 78% cannot read 3 simple 3-letter words) but little effort is invested in improving APSs. The preference for private school is unlikely to change and efforts to improve learning outcomes can't leave children in APSs behind.
Program to Improve Private Early Education (PIPE) aims to set the urban APS market on the path to transforming learning outcomes for low-income children in India. By identifying and scaling 6-8 promising solution providers (partners) PIPE aims to facilitate the market for high-quality, cost-effective preschool solutions in APSs. These solutions provide conceptual learning in areas that parents value (e.g. English and math), while also providing broader development benefits. Through our partners, PIPE works with APS owners and teachers to transform the learning experience in the classroom- teachers are trained to deliver these solutions and classrooms are equipped with appropriate materials. Parents are educated on how they can assess their child’s conceptual learning e.g. asking their child to pick out 12 sticks from a stack of 20, rather than just reciting up to 20. PIPE has partnered with AVPN through its Early Learning Collective (ELC) to bring together like-minded funders to create this sustainable transformation.