Creating Pathways to Functional Literacy
It was a learning for an entire community: If there is a will there is a way to see light at the end of tunnel!
This unfolded along the path that an ALP alumnus treaded. Nothing was a deterrent that could give in the way of the determination to see ‘light’, literally.
Manorama Bag was well past the age of 50, had been attending the ALP classes being conducted by Development Focus in association with TCS at her village in Odisha, deprived of basic amenities. She always longed for living a literate life. “I don’t want to die being labelled as illiterate” was her refrain.
She along with other learners was beaming with exuberance with the ongoing classes but intermittent power outages jolted their concentration. Inability to get back the same level of concentration soon as frustrating for many. It jolted the learning curve.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions and, thus, the villagers, with Manorama leading from the front, started to find a way around the erratic electricity supply: The villagers arranged for few solar lamps. The community acted on self-assurance that an unsteady electricity supply should not be a trigger to abort this literacy mission.
The illumination by the solar lamps was not enough. Given the age group many among the beneficiaries had poor eyesight—hit by age-related natural erosion. Manorama continued to scout for more sources of lighting which would be enough for conducting the training classes and everyone would be “visually comfortable”.
Though keen to resolve, Manorama was unsure---how to go about it. Then she saw a silver lining to the dark, when she came to know of an NGO, World Vision which used to provide solar lanterns for school kids to enable them study at home for their Child Development Program. Wasting no time, she decided to approach them and shot a letter with the help of an ALP facilitator by providing the names of beneficiaries. She sought the NGO’s support.
The manager of the World Vision was amazed and pleased, at the request from Manorama and other ALP beneficiaries. He was happy that elders, without any hesitation, had taken an idea from a children’s program. The World Vision was also aware of the ALP being conducted in the village by TCS and Development Focus. It immediately approved of a solar lantern for each learner of the ALP centre. The learners are also allowed to carry the lanterns for assignments at home.
This was possible as ALP harnesses the potential of the digitally empowered functional literacy solution developed in-house by TCS. A learner is taught to read through a combination of graphics, sound patterns, language structure. It works leveraging theory of cognition and laws of perception also 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.
Manorama’s efforts in way brought three organisations on a common platform. It built synergies. It created the much-needed learning ecosystem for the entire village. “My willingness to learning and to become functionally literate gave me the power to go extra miles…,” she signed off
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