Cultivating Literacy in Children
Amongst a group of elders in Guchapali village of Odisha was a 17-year-old girl hiding herself. When asked if she had learnt to read and write, the girl said no. Some of these old men wondered at the plight of this girl, despite prevalence of many government-run schemes to educate the masses, particularly the call of “primary education for all”!
The death of Sharia’s mother was a double jolt for her: She lost her dearest person. She lost out on her schooling too soon. A school dropout then, she was sucked into shouldering the work of a homemaker. She was barely seven.
Her new routine---as a school dropout---was wake up at 5am. First go out and fetch water. Then prepare the chullah (oven) to cook food, clean the vessels, clean the house ---a few among a long list of household chores. Her sole daily destination outside the four walls of the house was to visit the market. She never had the chance to step out beyond a certain point in the village, let along venturing outside the hamlet.
Living with her father and brother, she tried her best to step into her mother’s shoes. To run the household, she had to deal with poverty. Circumstances led to her becoming mature faster than the others of her age in her community.
Barely she had stepped into her teens that she began to realise the need for education to deal with poverty and challenges that it threw up. The thought of better late than never kept up the urge in her to become literate someday.
By now Sharia had turned 17. One day she chanced upon the news that an ALP centre was opened in her vicinity by an NGO, Development Focus, in association with TCS. Her joy knew no bounds. She made it to the centre---without wasting any time and leaving everything aside. She could enrol herself as the course was designed for 15 years and above.
She would wind up her duty at home as quickly as she could and rush to the ALP centre. She made the most of ALP in Odia. She inspired a passion for learning in other learners as well. She quickly developed the functional skills and started reading newspaper and writing her own notes. She recalls how this was the beginning of her “exposure to the outside world vis-à-vis overcoming shyness, increased mobility, interacting with people.
The highpoint was that Sharia got her second chance in life to study at 17. This golden chance visited her exactly after a decade---she had lost her mother when she was seven.
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.
ALP seeks to fill in cerebral gap created due to lack of literacy. Thus, Sharia’s progress made a lasting impact in the minds of villagers as they took education seriously and sent their wards to school.
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