India has more illiterate people than any other country in the world. TARA Akshar+ is a literacy project that provides high-quality adult education, through innovative methods, to women in some of the poorest areas of India. The Tara Akshar Research Project was set up to evaluate the effectiveness of Tara Akshar+ as a teaching program, while analyzing how literacy changes the lives of adult learners and their children.

The TARA Akshar Research project is a collaborative effort by many partners. Tara Akshar+ was developed by ReadingWise International and is implemented by the Indian NGO Development Alternatives (DA). The  interdisciplinary team of academic researchers come from the Centre for Development EconomicsUniversity of Ottawa, University of Sussex, and the Institute for Development Economics (Tokyo).

Our objective is to provide rigorous evidence of the impact of an innovative adult literacy program targeting adult women. Tara Akshar+ (hereafter TA) is a computer-based learning program comprising of two modules, “TARA Akshar” (a 36-day literacy program) and “TARA Ganit” (a 18-day numeracy program).

Using the reputable academic methodology of a Randomized Control Trial, we randomly assigned illiterate women, from rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, India, into two groups (i) a treatment group and (ii) a control group. By comparing the literacy and numeracy scores of the two groups after the literacy program, we demonstrate the impact of TA on the women's learning outcomes.

Additionally, we implemented novel behavioural experiments to understand the impact of TA on beliefs, preferences, and intra-household decision-making.

In the following pages, we provide additional information on the background of the project, the research team, the research papers, and photos from the field.

Christopher Ksoll and Annemie Maertens, the principal investigators of the project, can be contacted at CKsoll@mathematica-mpr.com and A.Maertens@sussex.ac.uk.