You can do your bit to promote the cause of literacy in India. Here is how
Piyush Manocha, 26 Delhi
- Works as an instrument panel design engineer at Maruti Suzuki India. He teaches students at NGO Literacy India every Sunday
- “During work I add value to my orgnisation. By teaching children I add value to myself”
What You Can Do
- Money Contributions can be made towards specific purposes or individuals. You can sponsor a single child, a group or children, specific training programs, books or education assessment surveys
- Books You can donate books that are in good condition
- Teach Share your time, talent and skills for various literacy projects. Teach children once or twice a week, for more during holidays or even full time to the time and the extent you feel comfortable
- Participate Attend local events and fund-raising initiatives such as marathons etc. Help with organizational work and library activity
Start at home. Teach children near home, such as your domestic help’s daughter. Tie up with an NGO and start teaching initiatives in your area for adults and children
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
Amol has a cycle. It has two big wheels and a bell. One day while riding his cycle he fell down. He saw that one wheel of his cycle was broken. Amol went back home. His father fixed his cycle. Amol was very happy.
You and I are fortunate to have teachers to thank for teaching us how to read and write. Some others are not so lucky. Statistics tell the story. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2008, a household survey on elementary education in rural India reveals that only 56.2 per cent standard 5 students could read the standard 2 level text above. The survey was facilitated by Pratham, an NGO working to provide quality education to underprivileged children across India.
Such statistics are unpromising, but for fact that the several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the country are putting in a dedicated effort to change things for the better. These organisations could not have achieved what they have but for individuals, who in spite of their busy academic or professional lives have found out time to give a helping hand. You can, too.
The power of literacy
Poverty is one of the major problems that India is grappling with and a lot is being done to counter the problem. Subsidised food and guaranteed employment are some of the initiatives that are being implemented.
“However, education is the only solution for sustainable and long-term reduction of poverty and unemployment,” says Anamara Baig, associate, program review and management, Read India, the flagship program of Pratham that helps to improve reading, writing and arithmetic skills of children in the age group 6-14 years. It ensures equality, whether it is between the rich and the poor or between genders. The goal of Literacy India, a Delhi-based NGO with the objective of empowering underprivileged children and women by making them self-sufficient, set in the three E’s, sums up the power of literacy—Education, Empowerment and Employment.
Make a difference
“It is a duty of every educated citizen to work on the education of those who are not literate,” says Ramachandrula Sastry, member, board of trustees, India Literacy Project (ILP), which partners with grass-root organisations working on literacy initiatives by providing them with financial and program-management support.
Making a differences
|Indian Literacy Project
|Teach For India
|Hippocampus Reading Foundation
For Piyush Manocha, 26, a instrument panel design engineer at Maruti Suzuki India who takes out time every Sunday to teach children at the Literacy India’s Delhi centre, the rewards of volunteering, though not monetary, are quite significant. “The children wait for me and make me feel wanted. Also, it increases my knowledge and gives me a sense of satisfaction,” he says.
Money. Donating money has never been this easy with several modes ways of donating available—online, through cheques or through fund transfers.
What’s more, you can donate any sum, small or big, and even choose the purpose for which your fund will be utilised.
Read India allows you to donate sums starting from Rs 100. For that amount, you can support one child for a year in Read India’s rural campaign, which reached 33 million children in 2008-09.
You can also donate to the projects that Literacy India undertakes for children and women by sponsoring a single child or woman, a group women or by sponsoring training workshops.
Donations to rural programs of a registered non-profit organisation are eligible for 100 per cent tax exemption under 35A or C of the Income Tax Act, while those to urban projects are eligible for 50 per cent exemption under section 80G.
Books. There is perhaps no joy like the joy of reading, and no better way to share that joy than to gift someone a book.
The Hippocampus Reading Foundation started with a similar vision: to spread the joy of reading among disadvantaged communities. After starting it off as an experiment back in 2004, this Bangalore-based organisation has so far partnered with 13 different organisations in Karnataka to set up libraries in government schools, community centres and low-end private schools, reaching out to over 17,000 children. You can donate books that are in good condition. It could also be the first step to instill the sense of giving in your kids, asking the little ones to donate some of their storybooks, which they have enjoyed and would like to share with other kids of their age.
Teach. NGOs will have several teaching options to choose from, both part time and full time. While at Literacy India you can take classes as and when you find comfortable, once a week or more during holidays, if you are more serious you can join the Teach For India (TFI) initiative, a nationwide movement that currently has its first batch of 87 college graduates and young professionals teaching full-time in low-income schools for a two-year period. Apart from paying a stipend to the fellows, as people who become a part of the initiative are called, TFI has tied up with some national banks to defer repayment of loans for students and have also made agreements with corporations who have expressed readiness to give their employers a sabbatical to teach. Applications for the second batch of TFI are, at the moment, open till 17 January and can be availed at their website.
Participate. There are other ways to get involved too. Large literacy projects need a lot of manpower and you can chip in with organisational work. You can take part in fundraising events such as marathons or even help in spreading the word through emails and social networking sites.
Take Charge. You can take it a step forward by arranging literacy initiatives in your area by tying up with an NGO. You can start a new ILP chapter in your area, by bringing together a core group of 3-4 people who are willing to devote at least two hours every week for the cause of literacy. The core group can then start with spreading awareness and fund raising activities and increase their activities as they see fit with time.
India needs teachers, and you can be one of them, thus giving back to those who need it, the power of knowledge.
anaghpal AT outlookindia DOT com