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Accountability from the grassroots in India

Girls sitting on floor studying in a classroom, India

Accountability from the grassroots in India

Project summary

This project explores the potential of community-based accountability relationships to raise children’s foundational learning outcomes, with a focus on the most disadvantaged primary-school learners: namely those who are from poorer households and, within these, girls. The research asks both whether and how changes occur when school actors are supported to view their accountability as being primarily to their local community and their goal as being to raise all children’s learning.

To do this, the project evaluates a grassroots intervention that supports school actors to work directly with their communities to develop a shared understanding of children’s learning levels, collaborate in planning how to raise them, and facilitate action both inside and outside the classroom.

In addition to analysing changes in children’s learning, the research examines the intervention’s capacity to create changes in school-community relations, and teachers’ attitudes, perceptions and actions in the classroom.

Research team

Principal Investigator: Professor Ricardo Sabates

Lead Co-Investigator in India: Dr Suman Bhattacharjea

Co-investigators: Dr Ben Alcott; Dr Rukmini Banerji; Professor Pauline Rose; Dr Wilima Wadhwa

India partners: Pratham Education Foundation


January 2018 – December 2020


Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

Mars Wrigley Foundation

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


The nature of parental involvement and its impact on learning outcomes in Sitapur district, India
Middha, M. September 2022
MA Dissertation University College London

Understanding the accuracy of teachers’ perceptions about low achieving learners in primary schools in rural India: An empirical analysis of alignments and misalignments
Wadmare, P., Nanda, M., Sabates, R., Sunder, N. and Wadhwa, W. 2022
International Journal of Educational Research Open, 3:100198

Parental involvement in children’s learning: the role of household wealth in rural India
Cashman, L., Sabates, R. and Alcott, B. 2021
International Journal of Educational Research. 105:101701.

Education accountability relationships between schools, communities, and government in India
Bhattacharjea, S. and Ramanujan P. 2020
ESRC-FCDO Research for Policy and Practice

Accountability from the grassroots: Children’s foundational reading and arithmetic in Sitapur District, Uttar Pradesh
Sabates, R., Bhattacharjea, S. and Wadhwa, W. 2020
Research and Policy Paper No. 20/6

Parental perceptions, family economic status and parental involvement in children's learning and schooling in rural India
Cashman, L.M. 2019
MPhil Thesis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.

Assessment for action: An organic, free-range approach to raising learning for all
Alcott, B., Rose, P., Sabates. R, Cherfils, M. and Alonso, M. L. 2018
Research and Policy Paper No. 18/5


Parental involvement continues to be central for reducing school dropout: Evidence from India during the pandemic Subhasree Sarkar, Suman Bhattacharjea and Ricardo Sabates, UKFIET, 26 September 2022

Involving the community in raising children's foundational learning outcomes: Evidence from India Deepak Kumar, Suman Bhattacharjea and Ricardo Sabates, UKFIET, 18 July 2022

Contrasting teachers' expectations and practices of interactions with parents in rural Sitapur, India
Mansi Nanda, UKFIET, 4 October 2021

Engaging schools and communities to support children’s learning
Ricardo Sabates and Suman Bhattacharjea, Oriel Square Publishing, 7 October 2020

Think local: Support for learning during COVID-19 could be found from within communities
Ricardo Sabates, UKFIET, 16 April 2020

Parental perceptions and parental involvement in children’s education in rural India: Lessons for the current COVID-19 crisis
Laura Cashman, Suman Bhattacharjea and Ricardo Sabates, PAL Network Blog, 15 April 2020

More than the sum of its parts: Internationally-comparable citizen-led assessments to ensure no child is left behind
Pauline Rose, PAL Network Blog, 8 July 2020

Make some noise so no one is left behind! Holla Bo!
Ricardo Sabates, The Impact Initiative, 21 October 2019

What ensures good quality research data?
Mansi Nanda, FERSA University of Cambridge Blog, 26 November 2018

Other media

Reflexive approaches to survey design and implementation: Lessons from research on communities and schools in rural India
Bhattacharjea, S. and Ramanujan, P.
REAL Centre Seminar Series 24 November 2020

Sessions aimed at understanding accountability relations in education
PAHAL Knowledge Series

Sessions with Pratham fieldwork staff to co-create knowledge (Hindi)
PAHAL Knowledge Series