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Saarthi: Nurturing children, empowering parents

Written by The Optimist

Saarthi, a fast-growing, professionally run new-age non-profit organization backed by Ashish Dhawan (Ashoka University, ChysCapital), Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Naukri, InfoEdge), Tara Singh Vachani (Max group).

Saarthi is focused on transforming parents’ engagement in their child’s development. They believe that students’ achievement scores, including learning outcomes, can be improved by empowering parents to support their child’s learning experience. They primarily work with families from the lower economic strata where they help build the bridge between two generations for the holistic development of a child. 

Saarthi is being incubated at Central Square Foundation. It is are a part of the N/Core incubator, by The Nudge Foundation. They are also a part of InnovatED, a Teach for India incubator initiative for early age education enterprises and UnLtd India, an incubator for social enterprises. 

Vision & Mission

By the time children even set foot in school, underprivileged children have dramatically lower cognitive and non-cognitive abilities than those of children from richer families. This has strong and enduring consequences for their health, education, and well-being. India is estimated to have 440 million children and 42% of them lie below the international poverty line. This means that more than 42% of India’s children are predetermined to have a poorer quality of life before they even enter school.

Parents in low-income communities, many themselves uneducated, understand firsthand the value of an excellent education. They possess the necessary determination but lack the awareness, capacity, and capability to engage effectively with their child’s development.

Model:

  • Creating (with experts) and deliver high quality, engaging resources in the form of an “Activity Box” to the child’s house – one box/month
  • Delivering instructions to use the Activity box by multiple channels – IVR (voice recording for feature phones), WhatsApp audios & videos, Phone call support
  • A trained paraprofessional visits the mother at her house to discuss confidence + awareness – once/week. 

COVID RESPONSE-  The lockdown brought unprecedented circumstances and the loss that a child’s learning curve would go through during this time was unimaginable.

Hence, Saarthi came up with a model that leverages existing smart-phones in lower-income households:
Each community has a relationship manager (preferable female, who is paid a stipulated amount) who enrolls 40-50 kids in her batch. To understand where a child stands in terms of learning and knowledge, irrespective of their age, a diagnostic test is given to them. After careful consideration, the children are allotted worksheets that are sent to their parents’ phones in the morning. The parents take a picture of the answers and send it to the RM, who then enters their score onto Saarthi’s system. If a child is consistently scoring poorly, the required intervention is done.
During the lockdown, Saarthi made extensive use of WhatsApp for business API. The model rests on the fact that over 97% of people who own a smartphone are also WhatsApp users.
The success of the model was measurable owing to photographic proof of the child’s worksheets sent in by parents.
Saarthi is working with 154 community-based women in four states (Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Madhya-Pradesh) to help 5000+ children improve their learning outcomes.   
Engagement – 90% daily response rate (highest among EdTech organizations in the non-profit and for-profit sector)

Learning – 85% of the students met their learning targets.

Saarthi is indeed working towards the development of children in the future.

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The Optimist

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