Nai Disha – A computer-based Functional Literacy Project
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Nai Disha – A computer-based Functional Literacy Project

By auther pic. CSRBOX

April 19, 2019

Nai Disha – A computer-based Functional Literacy Project

Humana People To People India

‘Earlier I couldn’t even sign my name. I was forced to take my daughter for any bank-related work and put my thumb impression. I was always unsure of the measurements as I could not use the tape measure’ – says Asha Devi, a villager from Narayanpur, Thanagazi, Alwar, Rajasthan.

 

Asha never attended a school until about 6 months ago; she was among many illiterate women of a village who was completely dependent on her daughters or neighbour for any work that required reading or writing.

 

Asha is not alone; India by far has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world amounting to nearly 40 percent of the global total. More than 70 years after independence, one in three women in India is still unlettered. Attitudinal issues perceived and assumed it was social reactions and high dropout rates are but some impediments in achieving literacy among the adult population in India. These issues are all the more prominent for women who have collaborated by successive census figures continue to lag in terms of literacy and education in the country relative to men.

 

 

In 2017, Humana People to People India joined hands with Tata Consultancy Services to incorporate the CBFL or Computer-based Functional Literacy methodology in its ‘Nai Disha’ project. The project is aimed at empowering 100,000 women in 10 identified districts in four states in the first year of intervention. The project aims to develop functional literacy so that amongst the targeted adults learning becomes relevant to living and working. The targeted women belong to the age group of 14 years and above from the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

 

Narayan Singh, Sarpanch, Village Mailawas, Nuh, Haryana says – ‘When the Nai Disha project started here, some elderly women felt skeptical about attending the classes due to their age. But when they noticed the behavioral change in their neighbor who was attending the classes, all the women participated in the literacy project with great enthusiasm. As a result, 75% of them can today sign their names and successfully carry out important bank transactions and have newly founded self-respect.’

 

The ‘Nai Disha’ project uses a mix of teaching software, multimedia presentations and printed materials to teach to read, write and do functional arithmetic in a fraction of time used by conventional methods. The entire program is delivered at scale by volunteer ‘preraks’ who work with 50 women in 90 days delivering at least 50 hours of learning through 40 sessions that include lessons, practice, formative and summative test. All the 500 preraks are equipped with a laptop; making them mobile and together they run 1,000 learning centres each with 25 women every three months.

 

Sudesh Sharma of Lila Manda village of Alwar district of Rajasthan is one such prerak. Sharing her experience, she says – ‘I had never seen or operated a computer before so I was skeptical about joining the project but during the 4-day training, we were all trained very well. In 4 days, we learned all the aspects of the project perfectly. Earlier, I was limited to four walls of my house. Today I step out freely and can also operate the computer well.’

 

In the tribal-dominated regions of the country, the issue of female literacy is all the more pertinent as these areas have suffered through generations of neglect in this regard.

 

Bijora Bali is one such village in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh and here the 24-year-old prerak Anita Gokhale has overcome several challenges of her own while spreading the light of literacy among the tribal women.

 

Anita Gokhale, Prerak, Village Bijora Bali, Khandwa, MP says – ‘My house is about 1.5 km away from the center and the connecting path is completely desolate. On days when there is no one at home, I have to travel on foot, or with the children of my neighbor. Also, there is no electricity in my village. So I had to use electricity in the neighboring village. Initially, all the villagers would laugh at me for teaching the women but today everyone treats me with respect and I feel that I am doing something right.

 

This unique and innovative program has seen over 100,000 women graduating from the program as neo-literates in the first year of the intervention.

 

Saakshar – the Hindi translation of the English word ‘literate’ stems from the route ‘Akshar’ meaning indestructible and the ‘Nai Disha’ project continues to exemplify the power of literacy transmuting women with the lifelong knowledge, self-confidence and economic freedom that true to its name remains indestructible.

 

The project was also supported by GAIA – Movement Trust Living Earth Green World Action by providing solar lanterns for illuminating the centers.

 

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