Arithmetic Literacy Helps Transform Lives
Kalavati and Rathuram could not sell the crop of their marginal landholding beyond the boundaries of their village. They sold it at a much cheaper price to an interceder. The farmer couple never ventured to the main market, which was barely four kilometers away, as they were nowhere near knowledge of basic calculations for a fair deal.
With about Rs 1,000 a week, the farmer couple stayed contended in their fragile mud house nestled in Karpawand village of Bastar district in Chhattisgarh. Kalavati and Rathuram were parents to three children. Five mouths to feed, besides buying seeds, manure and fertilizers.
In 2017, what came to their fence was a vehicle to transform their lives. The couple broke free to enroll themselves in the TCS’ Adult Literacy Program (ALP). For rollout of ALP in this locale, TCS had collaborated with an NGO, Development Focus, as the deployment partner.
Obediently, wife and husband sat through the three-month-long program and achieved functional literacy. They were able to read and write their names. Today, thumb impression was so passe`, and scribbling the signature was in. They could now recognize numbers and beyond.
And thus went the ‘statement of accomplishment’ from a glittering ALP alumnus, Rathuram: “For us, three months were a struggle as we had to strike a balance between two, earning our livelihood and learning in the classroom. But in the end the returns were much more than double…as for the first time what we sold for Rs 1,000 in our village, we sold the same for more than Rs 3,000 in the main market.”
The couple carried a ‘newly-acquired gadget’ with an obvious sense of pride to the market. Which was a calculator. They also carried the passbook of their newly opened bank account. With their weekly income having soared three-folds, they had excess of income over expenditure to put into savings. “Since we no longer live on a shoe-string budget, we fearlessly deposit in the bank account regularly,” Kalavati humbly and innocently vents.
This was possible as ALP harnesses the potential of the Computer Based Functional Literacy Solution (CBFL), a software developed in-house. A learner is taught to read through a combination of graphics, sound patterns, language structures. It works on the premise that the adults know the sounds of words and the things that they denote, and they need to connect spoken words to written graphics.
ALP also facilitates creating awareness about various government-sponsored welfare schemes, particularly those meant to be catalysts for income generation. As a sequel to this, Kalavati, Rathuram and other ALP alumni approached the Panchayat to avail agricultural schemes and subsidies. In October 2017 they received quality seeds and pumps from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, and not having to pay a penny!
Rathuram’s village was 21km away from the highway. He could never attend school as there was none nearby. For Rathuram and Kalavati, what they missed out on in their childhood and has been made up for after they became adults. Better late than never!
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