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Home >> Case studies from the Indian Voluntary Sector >> Pratham India Education Initiative (PIEI)

Pratham India Education Initiative (PIEI)

About the Organisation

Nearing eleven years since the start of its operations in the slums of Mumbai in 1994, Pratham has reached over a million children so far, consistently reaching over 200,000 children over the last few years through pre-school, in-school and out-of-school programmes all aimed at achieving its mission. A comprehensive study of the Pratham Organization and its contribution to the problem of primary education led to the conclusion that corporate India would need to get involved to help scale up the model and as a result Pratham India Education Initiative was established as a 'Not for Profit' Company in June 2002. Its main features included:

  1. 1. A Board of Directors from amongst the leaders of Corporate India who could oversee, guide and aid the progress of universalisation through financial, managerial and organization support was formed.
  2. 2. A Programme Support Group drawn from persons with long experience in corporate environment led by the CEO of Pratham to provide support in the areas of fundraising, finance management, compliance and other related managerial functions were recruited.
  3. 3. A Resource Centre was constituted which comprised people who built Pratham since its inception and have expertise in areas of mobilization, social-organization, pedagogy, evaluation, research, training, and related functions, namely Director, Resource Centre and five other Directors including convener of the Exchange Forum.

The PIEI Board

  1. The unique feature about the Board is the fundamental belief that each individual member as well as the entire Board has in the mission of Pratham and that their involvement is crucial in achieving the same.
  2. The Board’s engagement and involvement is a natural response to the quality of work that the organisation does and the commitment of the management to deliver on results
  3. Pratham has always invested time and effort in attracting the best of talents to the organisation at the management and staff level and invests in ensuring that interest and commitment are sustained in staff.
  4. The main function of the PIEI Board is to sustain the loosely federated network of organisations under the Pratham umbrella - each a separate legal entity with its own governance and reporting structure.
  5. The above is articulated and expectations are clarified.
  6. Some individual members are more accessible than others and the CEO bearing in mind individual member motivations, availability and the specific skills/expertise each brings to the Board, solicits their contributions.
  7. Engagement is consciously planned and a well thought through process by the CEO
  8. The relationship between the Board and the management is one that offers guidance and overall supervision of long-term strategy and policy.
  9. Communication is open and Board members are informed when there are important developments. Otherwise, it is only at the time of the Board meetings.
  10. Pratham has an extremely effective founder. Understanding the passion and the drive of the founder and managing the same in the context of a high profile Board calls for very special people management skills in the CEO of PIEI.


Pratham India Education Initiative may be contacted at

12th floor Arcadia NCPA Lane Nariman Point Mumbai Tel: 022 2288 6975

Mr Vaghul , Chair ,GIVE Foundation , India and Pratham India on the role of Boards in the Indian Voluntary sector says

Usually Boards in NGOs in India primarily fulfill a statutory role. In those organisations where the founder/CEO is open to suggestion and inputs, it is easier to introduce principles of good governance and extend the role of the Board to that of offering guidance and strategic inputs.

Board members will rarely have the bandwidth to be involved with all aspects of the programme and it is not their role to do so. However, this creates information asymmetry on the Board and almost forces members to play a ‘limited’ role. Therefore, communication to Board members must be appropriate in terms of timing and content.

Inputs from Board members have to be solicited intelligently and appropriately, keeping in mind their other commitments. It is only in such a situation that Board members can contribute optimally and effectively.

The role of the Chair is very important to ensure appropriate Board room dynamics and effective team spirit within the Board. Ensuring that the relationship between the CEO and the Board is conducive to enhancing organisational effectiveness and not counter productive is also the Chair’s job.