Dr Rukmini Banerji


Yidan Prize for Education Development




Supporting children to ‘Leap Forward’ through early years



Judge's citation

Featured initiatives


Dr Rukmini Banerji

CEO, Pratham Education Foundation


Literacy for all; Policy and research; Foundational learning; Early childhood education; Monitoring, evaluation, and assessment

Seeing “every child in school and learning well”

Dr Rukmini Banerji has dedicated her career to working out where the gaps lie in education—and how to close them. As the CEO of the Pratham Education Foundation since 2015, she’s led the organization’s education programs, helping to reform how children are taught across India.


Pratham has developed the ‘Teaching at the Right Level’ (TaRL) program to address learning deficit, especially for those who fall behind at school. With the TaRL approach, teachers assess and group children by learning level—not grade. Special activities and materials are then used to speed up their understanding in reading and mathematics.


To date, Pratham has partnered with more than half of India’s state governments to roll out TaRL. The success of the program has seen it spread beyond India, and it’s been adapted and adopted in other parts of South Asia as well as across sub-Saharan Africa.


These partnerships are built on Rukmini and the team’s earlier research efforts, which included the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) first published in 2005. It showed that a significant number of students were still struggling to read or do basic arithmetic despite spending years in school. Since then, 15 countries in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America have launched similar assessments.


The Government of Bihar, India, awarded Rukmini the inaugural Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Shiksha Puraskar, which recognizes outstanding contributions to education in the state.

Dr Rukmini Banerji and the Pratham team have a clear mission: ‘Every child in school and learning well’. A reminder that we need to focus on education quality and not just school enrolments. The solutions that they have deployed towards this goal have proven to be cost-effective and scalable with a demonstrated potential to impact globally—disruptive education innovation with transformative results.

Dorothy K. Gordon

Head, Judging Panel, Yidan Prize for Education Development

Featured initiatives

Supported by the Yidan Prize project funds
Supporting children to ‘Leap Forward’ through early years

Strengthening, scaling, and supporting Pratham’s work with governments, communities, and parents to offer children quality early education.



More about Dr Rukmini Banerji


2021 Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate


Meet Dr Rukmini Banerji


Acceptance Speech