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Madhav Chavan has won the 2012 Wise Prize for education. The Indian social activist collected a medal and a cheque for half a million dollars. He is the co-founder of Pratham, the largest education NGO in India, providing primary education to children living in slums.

He said: “All it needs is 30,000 volunteers across the country. We said: can it be done? Oh yeah, if you talk to people, and they pass the word you don’t even need twitter and all that, the word spreads quickly. Every year during the last seven years 20 to 30,000 volunteers have been trained. They go into 16,000 villages, visit 330,000 families and test more than 700,000 children.”

Madhav Chavan is bouyed up by his optimism.He doesn’t waste time worrying about problems, he starts looking for solutions straight away: “So if you don’t have space, you do not have money, you do not have training, or manpower. The problem is: can it be solved? And this is exactly at the point when we say: this problem doesn’t exist. I do not need an structure, I do not need trained people, and I do not need money, and without that is possible to work? Yes! If people in their own communities say: I’ll teach children in my own community, you get started.”

In the world of education, this prize is looked on as being equivalent to a Nobel Prize. Madhav Chavan is giving all the prize money to his NGO Pratham.

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