Education is one of the most powerful instrument in overall development of individuals enabling them to become active participants in the societal transformations. As per the 2015 UNESCO report, in terms of absolute numbers, India, with 28.7 crore illiterates – has the highest population of illiterate adults. Furthermore, gender disparity in education is widespread. Women are the indispensable part of a society and the development of future generation chiefly depends upon the education of women. Moreover, in terms of the educational status, Muslims being the largest minority community in the country, which constitutes 14.23 % of the population, lag behind. In view of above, SHIKSHA Initiative introduced SHIKSHA+ a profound intervention that uses an ICT based methodology to instil the fundamentals of reading, writing and numeracy to illiterate adults who have not attended a formal school.
This is a story of Batch 5 of Chhaulas centre where 8 Muslim ladies of same family study and learn together- Chunmun (20); Iram (21); Nasim (32); Nazma (39); Amirbano (42); Pari (50); Rosanara (52); and Riyazbano (52). They all are housewives and live in close proximity to each other. The centre is operates from Nasim’s house during the morning. Out of all the learners, Nasim and Nazma were the first one to know about the SHIKSHA+ through a batch that was previously running in their colony. Upon enquiring, they received positive feedback from the learners, which motivated them to join. Thereafter, they spoke to other ladies of their family and all of them immediately agreed to join. Subsequently, they informed their husbands and they readily agreed. Prior to joining the course, all the learners had studied Urdu and only Nasim and Iram had basic knowledge of Hindi alphabets.
Currently, they have completed 2.5 months in the course and all the learners are excited to study and look forward to attend classes every day. Moreover, if they have to attend any religious ceremony or personal engagement they all ensure that they don’t miss their classes. Learners are quite passionate about their studies. The aforesaid was exemplified when Nasim requested Priyanka (SHIKSHA+ instructor) to conduct classes where she was recovering from her illness so that she doesn’t misses out any portion of the lesson. Moreover, whenever any guest visits their house they ensure that guests are informed in advance about the class and their presence doesn’t affect the studies.
The duration of the class is 2 hours but Nazma stated that they have no problem if class is extended beyond 2 hours in order to avail more time to study. Also, Amirbano, one of the oldest learner stated that they will be satisfied if the course duration is extended beyond 3 months. In addition, Nasim shares that whenever they get time at home they do practice and take help from their kids if they face any challenge. Husbands of all the learners are very supportive and encourage them to study and learn.
Referring to challenges, Rosanara expresses that as a women we have a lot to manage Viz. family, friends, and household chores along with studies which makes it difficult for us to make room for learning. Moreover, age is a crucial factor in learning and understanding, too. Adults tend to learn less rapidly with age. However, with the support from instructor and other learners she is able to learn. According to her experience, she states we are slow in reading but we want to read fast. Thus, irrespective of age all the learners are excited to study. Thus, learn.
Presently, all the learners have learnt Hindi alphabets, can recognize words, and write their respective names, their respective husband’s name and village name in Hindi. They have also learnt numbers and have got knowledge of addition and subtraction.
Speaking about their instructor Priyanka, they said that she is hardworking and is always ready to help and support. She is never annoyed irrespective of the number of queries placed before her.
Nazma shared that though they want the course to be extended but if it’s not possible since the course duration is 3 months they will continue their practice and will join tuition classes. Priyanka, as per one of her experiences, states that once Nazma’s husband and her daughter came to the centre to call her for some personal work to which she responded that she will first finish her class and then go along with them. As a result they had to wait for her class to be over and their presence didn’t distract her in her studies because she was totally engrossed in studying.
Iram who is one of the youngest learner was enrolled by her mother in law since she wants the generation to be literate. Iram shared that she is grateful to her mother in law for getting her enrolled and once she has learnt Hindi she would like to learn English language.
All the learners unanimously expressed gratitude to SHIKSHA Initiative for introducing SHIKSHA+ in their village and said they will certainly inspire other ladies of their village to join centre and learn.