According to the national statistics, around 35 percent of women in India is unlettered, largely owning to lack of equal educational opportunities and awareness in rural areas.
TCS’ Adult Literacy Program (ALP), through its Computer Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) solution, provides an accelerated learning environment, to promote functional literacy, in particular for women in marginalized communities.
One such beneficiary of this program is 45-year-old Asha Devi of Narayanpur village of Thanagazi block in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Asha was always interested in tailoring but due to lack of knowledge of numbers, she could not take accurate measurements and clients would often complain of ill-fitting clothes. Hence, she could never establish her tailoring business.
In 2017, Humana People to People India (HPPI), an NGO, joined hands with TCS, as an implementing partner, to incorporate the CBFL methodology in its ‘Nai Disha’ project, aimed at empowering women in four Indian states. Asha enrolled herself in this program which was launched in her village. It helped her achieve functional literacy, over a duration of 3 months.
The unique and innovative methodology of ALP and its delivery mechanism has seen over 132,000 women, mainly marginalized, graduating from the ‘Nai Disha’ project as neo-literates as of March 2020.
The ability to understand digits, take measurements and write them down, was indeed a liberating and empowering feeling for Asha. “Now I’m not dependent on anyone. I can take measurements and jot them down. At the bank, I can now easily make transactions. Earlier I would take my daughter for filling up the forms and give my thumb impression as I could not sign. These are things of the past now,” she says with a bright smile.
Today, Asha is an entrepreneur with a tailoring center at her house. She offers a two-month-long tailoring course for women from the neighborhood which earns her an assured monthly income apart from the profit she generates from stitching clothes for her regular clientele.
Over the years the impact of the Adult Literacy Program has been immense and manifold. The program was designed to touch the lives of immediate beneficiaries but has transcended much beyond, to ‘preraks’, supervisors, volunteers and the implementing partners too.