Madhi Foundation was established in 2016 as a non-profit, committed to bridging the equity gap in education for children across India. Their core programme aims to expose teachers to best practices in pedagogy and classroom management strategies where they learn by applying the techniques, through a tool kit comprising of contextual and customizable content like bilingual scripted lesson plans for all subjects, supplementary teaching learning material (TLM), workshop-based differentiated training and on-site coaching.
CSF Support to ISLI
While there are numerous organisations working for improving teacher training, Madhi was unique in its approach of working at the intersection of content creation and system reform. We started supporting Madhi in 2016, seeing a strong alignment with not only our focus on teachers, but also with other criteria.
- Early to mid-stage: Madhi started with a small pilot in 2015 in Chennai, to test the model through their ‘Transformational Academic Programme’ (TAP). CSF partnered with Madhi in 2016, when they launched the programme with 15 Chennai Corporation Schools.
- Focus on low-income education ecosystem: Madhi is committed to working to bridge the learning gap for the most marginalized and underserved communities. They focus on working closely with the government education system in Tamil Nadu to deliver their programmes and are also exploring a similar model for affordable private schools (APS).
- Entrepreneur and Team: Madhi’s founder, Merlia Shaukath (Athena Infonomics, Teach For India) brings strong education management experience, coupled with deep understanding of context and relationships in Tamil Nadu. The young, mission-driven team has grown to build deep content creation and delivery expertise.
- Evidence Backed: Global evidence increasingly shows that in low-income countries where teacher capacity is very low, providing teachers with very specific instructions and tools to deliver lessons (such as lesson plans, workbooks and related TLM), improves student achievement. Madhi incorporates this principle in its model by making learning for teachers experiential, while also enabling teachers to enhance their pedagogical skills for early literacy and numeracy.
- Distinctiveness: Madhi’s interventions are distinctive due to two key aspects. First is their ‘learning by doing’ approach to teacher training, wherein teachers use the toolkit comprising of bilingual scripted lesson plans and relevant TLM and eventually internalise it and become adept at creating their own resources. The other is their ability to work with the public systems at various levels, including state, district and block level stakeholders, to truly institutionalise the programme.
- Scalability: Since the beginning, Madhi has focused on a clear path to scale. They are working closely with government agencies such as SCERT Tamil Nadu to institutionalise the content and training material, and with the SSA Tamil Nadu to leverage state-level capacity for coaching and ongoing support to teachers. They are also experimenting actively with technology, to reduce costs and dependency on individuals and to build a shared system of accountability toward outcomes amongst all stakeholders in the system.
- Technology: Madhi has been using technology actively to improve delivery, quality and monitoring of its programme. They use a classroom observation application, which has been adopted by Tamil Nadu, to support classrooms, obtain data, discern trends and drive data-backed policy decisions. They have also been working to digitise all their content using platforms with offline capabilities, so teachers across public and private school systems can use it on their own devices.
- Sustainability: Madhi has been able to leverage significant government resources, to minimise costs. While they primarily raise philanthropic funding for their work, they have also been exploring APS engagements with monetisation opportunities. Within two years, Madhi has seen a 5x growth in its budget.
Madhi’s progress story
Within the past couple of years, Madhi has seen significant growth in scale and impact. The team has grown 5x from 5 members to 25, while the number of teachers impacted has grown 50x, to 2000, in 2018-19. There is significant improvement in learning outcomes for both numeracy and literacy, especially in Grades 1 and 2, across Madhi classrooms. Madhi has focused on building organisational capacity and is on track to expand its presence within and across states over the next three years.