The write stuff. Enabling adults to grasp basic literacy skills such as reading, writing and numeracy, opens an opportunity for a brighter future. Adult literacy groups often go on to become involved in development activities like savings and loans, training and starting micro businesses.
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Reading between the lines, then re-writing the story.
One in six adults in the world today are illiterate. That’s 771 million people, not including children, who lack the basic skills of reading and writing that most of us take for granted. What’s more, two-thirds are women. If literacy is to be life-changing, the skills of reading and writing need to be taught in a way that is directly relevant to people’s daily needs. Then it becomes transformational – beginning with the individual, but quickly spreading to whole families, communities and beyond. Literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate families enjoy improved health and nutrition; and literate communities are well positioned to engage in development opportunities.
TEAR partner Muneer works in some very poor villages in India where illiteracy is commonplace, offering classes that combine literacy skills with awareness raising and empowerment.
In the fishing village of Junput in West Bengal, women have joined Muneer’s literacy class in order to become more independent. They want to be able to go to the post office and the bank on their own and understand what to do; teach their own children and ensure they don’t get cheated in shopping transactions. In order to hold a bank account, it is now a panchayat (local government) requirement that people sign their name in their passbook rather than using their fingerprint. But these women’s aspirations are far greater than learning to sign their name – they have high hopes for the level of literacy they can attain and what it will mean for their lives.
One such group has already begun to realise their dreams. 25 women met together 3 hours a day, 6 days a week for a year - learning to read and understand letters and numbers, and the world around them. This group of previously illiterate women are now able to read Bengali, understand newspapers and help their children with their homework. They have learnt more about caring for their children (for example, accessing immunisations), the availability of various government schemes, and how to lobby local authorities about infrastructure needs, like roads, electricity and water.
About our partner – Muneer
The Muneer Social Welfare Society is a Delhi-based Indian development organisation. The word “muneer” is derived from an Urdu word meaning “light house”. Established in 1995, it now works in several states in India.
Muneer responds to the needs of the poor and marginalised in India through integrated community development programs. They combine health, education and micro-credit activities to generate opportunities for those who otherwise miss out. They also help communities become better informed about their rights. By being organised to work together, communities are better able to claim their rights and work together for a stronger community.