Our Story

Mission & Vision

DEVI Sansthan (Dignity Education Vision International) is a non-profit organisation founded in 1992 and based in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Collaborating with governments, NGOs, schools, and corporations worldwide, DEVI Sansthan is accelerating FLN for children and adults.

Our Mission
To provide quality education for underprivileged communities by creating scalable, swift and effective pedagogies; and implementing them across broad geographies through partnerships with governments, schools & colleges, corporates and other NGOs.

Our Vision
A world in which every child gets a quality education, that goes beyond basic literacy to address key 21st century challenges, including climate change. A world in which every adult has the dignity of being able to read and write.


  • DEVI Sansthan is founded by the educationist Dr Sunita Gandhi while working as an Economist at the World Bank in Washington DC.
  • Early years are spent experimenting with grassroots community development in villages around Lucknow, including running health camps.
  • Later efforts included advocating with government officials for educational reform and prioritising literacy.


  • Experimental Hindi literacy work begins in the slums of Lucknow, leading to creation of a set of literacy materials.
  • Kurauni village is made literate through the work of 22 women volunteers.
  • Literacy survey testing the reading levels of 1.5 million people in Lucknow district.
  • DEVI Sansthan replicates literacy materials in 13 Indian languages, with the help of its partners.
  • Each One Teach One campaign mobilizes some 500,000 student volunteers nationwide to make at least one person literate.


  • Developed EdTech literacy solutions in response to Covid crisis.
  • DEVI Sansthan expanded community development work in vulnerable communities impacted by lockdown.
  • Replicated our literacy program into 30 Indian and International languages, paving the way for large-scale expansion.


  • Launched Accelerating Learning for All (ALfA) program for use in schools.
  • Started large-scale ALfA Programs in two low-performing districts of India.
  • MOU signed to expand DEVI Sansthan’s ALfA to 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
  • International partnerships forged with Ministry of Education, Maldives; Literacy Chicago, USA, and more.
  • Published Disruptive Literacy: A Roadmap for Urgent Global Action (Bloomsbury).
  • Hosted Massive Open Online Trainings; starting with the first on March 9 & 10, 2023.

Why Literacy?

Can you read this sentence? If so, you are literate.

Sometimes we take literacy for granted, but can you imagine what it would be like to not be able to read and write? To struggle to find your way in a new place because you can’t use the road signs? To not be able to send a text message on your mobile? To need to ask someone else to fill in a form for you?

Literacy is vital for people’s social, emotional, and economic wellbeing. It is key to a nation’s development. Yet there are still hundreds of millions of people around the world – especially in Low and Middle Income Countries, including India – who lack the key skills of reading, writing and doing basic arithmetic. DEVI Sansthan is working to help children and adults develop these crucial literacy skills.

Our Values


We strive to provide quality education for children and adults, with a special focus on the most disadvantaged.


We work with strong personal conviction and commitment to the cause of literacy for all.


We experiment with new pedagogies and programs, to enable people to learn key skills easily and enjoyably.

Benefits of Literacy

Learning to read and write can make a big difference in people’s lives, at multiple levels:
  • Opening opportunities for further education. Learning basic literacy is the first step on this educational ladder. Children who struggle to read and write in school are more likely to drop out of school early, whereas literacy gives a solid foundation for their further schooling.
  • Expanding job opportunities. Uneducated people often struggle to find regular, decently paid work. Economically, there is a strong positive correlation between literacy and income level, with literate people earning an estimated 40-70% more than their illiterate counterparts.
  • Breaking inter-generational poverty. Poverty is an inter-generational cycle because illiterate, impoverished parents are often unable to provide their children with a good education. Parents who can read and write are more likely to send their kids to school, and are better able to.
  • Boosting self confidence. Illiterate people often experience shame and are vulnerable to exploitation. Literacy helps people feel more confident in themselves, more able to take initiative to improve their lives.
  • Health: Numerous studies have demonstrated the significant positive effects of literacy on public health and lowering infant mortality. In developing countries, a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past age 5, relative to a child born to an illiterate mother. Literate women also have more control over their reproductive rights, and lower fertility rates.
  • Political rights. Literate people are generally more able to access information about current events, make up their own mind, and engage in the political process. People who can read are also more able to access the government services to which they’re entitled.
These benefits to individuals, when translated to the national and international scale, mean a stronger economy, more robust democracy and better public health.


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A Global Literacy Crisis

There are over 750 million illiterate adults around the world today, two thirds of which are women. The number of illiterate adults has been stubbornly hard to decrease over the last 50 years.

The Covid crisis has severely disrupted education systems around the world, with the World Bank estimating that 70% of 10-year-olds in Low and Middle Income Countries are now in learning poverty – that is, unable to read a simple text with understanding. We urgently must ensure these children learn the key skills which will serve them well for the rest of their lives – or else risk losing another generation to illiteracy.

Illiteracy in India

India has by far the world’s largest population of illiterates: according to UNESCO, 250 million adults in India are illiterate. While literacy rates are growing (from 64% to 74% between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses), the rate of improvement is disappointingly slow. This lack of literacy has major negative consequences economically, politically and socially.

India has achieved near universal primary school enrolment rates. However, schools are often failing to make their students literate. The Annual Status of Education Report (2022) indicates that over half of Grade 5 students can’t read a Grade 2 text in their mother tongue. The fact that so many students are failing to learn the basics in school indicates the deep failings of our education system, showing the need for radical reform.

Become a Volunteer Now

You can make a big difference by giving someone the lifelong gift of literacy. Join the Each One Teach One campaign today, using the groundbreaking ALfA toolkits and Literacy Now app.

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