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Study Overview

Impact of Tara Akshar - a computer-based adult literacy program - on literacy and numeracy outcomes
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Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), we analyze the impact of a computer-based adult literacy program - called Tara Akshar - on literacy and numeracy outcomes in India.

Registration Citation:

Ksoll, C., 2013. Impact of Tara Akshar - a computer-based adult literacy program - on literacy and numeracy outcomes. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at:

Additional Keywords:
Adult literacy; Information and communications technology (ICT); Computer-based instruction
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Christopher Ksoll
University of Ottawa
Name of Second PI:
Alain Desrochers
University of Ottawa

Study Sponsor

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada
Study Sponsor Location:

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Development Alternatives
Type of Organization:
NGO (local) or other civil society organization

Intervention Overview


Tara Akshar is a computer-based adult literacy program, developed by Readingwise UK and implemented by Development Alternatives in Uttar Pradesh, India. Target beneficiaries are illiterate adult women. The classes run for two hours a day for 35 days (49 days, including the numeracy component). The method builds on insights from cognitive psychology, including advanced memory techniques. It uses both computer software, an instructor, playing cards and writing books. More information can be found at and Tara Akshar claims success rates of over 80%.

Theory of Change:
Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Development Alternatives
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
Type of Organization:
Foreign or Multilateral Aid Agency

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
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Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

We have measured learning outcomes before the treatment started, using already developed literacy and numeracy tests. We will again measure learning outcomes after treatment has ended, for both treatment and control groups. We then implement simple difference, difference-in-difference and value added specifications using least squares regression, where we include a variable for whether the person was assigned to the treatment group, as well as additional controls (such as the Wechsler non-verbal aptitude test, digit span, demographic information). Regression 1: simple difference (only treatment dummy) Regression 2: simple difference, (treatment dummy plus age, caste, Wechsler non-verbal aptitude test, marital status). We drop caste if there is not sufficient variation. We include age plus a dummy if age is missing (and impute mean age) Regression 3: difference in difference including the above covariates Regression 4: value-added specification (treatment dummy plus baseline literacy/numeracy plus covariates)

Outcomes (Endpoints):

Final outcomes -Primary outcomes 1. Scores on literacy test (including: Ashkar (letter) reading fluency; Barakhadi (consonant-vowel syllable) reading fluency; Word reading fluency; Nonword reading fluency; Word reading fluency; Grade 1 level passage reading fluency; Grade 1 level comprehension questions) 2. Scores on numeracy test (Single-digit recognition (1-9); Two-digit number recognition (10-99); Subtraction with carry over; Division) Intermediate outcomes 3. Rapid Automatic Naming

Unit of Analysis:
Illiterate female adult learners in 10 villages in Uttar Pradesh

What is the learning increase in adult literacy and numeracy due to Tara Akshar.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Volunteers for adult literacy program will be phased in (in the first phase this generates an RCT)
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Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
about 55% of the 238 in the treatment group, rest in control group

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Outcomes Data

Literacy and numeracy test score data
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped