Sudha and her sister were the only people in their family who were illiterate. When the Shiksha+ instructor came to Sudha’s house to convince her to enroll in the adult literacy classes, her family, comprising her husband, father-in-law, brothers, and two kids, were very encouraging.
Sudha runs a cosmetics shop with her elder sister. Before she attended the Shiksha+ classes, she felt that she was dependent on other people for everything. For example, every time a customer came to the shop, Sudha had to call someone from her house to come and help with the billing. This was obviously not very good for business.
Shiksha aims to offer transformational education to children and adults who have never formally been to school. Using ICT, it’s a program that greatly enhances the learning experience. When she started coming to the Shiksha+ classes, Sudha was hesitant and slow to pick up things. However, her instructor slowly decoded the reading, writing, and arithmetic for her. She began picking up concepts very fast. A devoted pupil, she never missed even a day, worked hard at her studies and paid attention to her teachers. Soon she was able to write her name. She could now go to the bank and make deposits and withdrawals. She could read medicine labels to understand which ones had expired. And she could help her kids to some extent with their homework, checking deadlines and dates.
Says the wise Sudha, ‘If you want to gain something, you have to put in the effort. I had my usual work to do – looking after the family, the children… my sister’s husband is sick, so I have that responsibility also. And there’s my shop to care for. I would wake up at 4 am so I could get an extra hour to study, and at night I would study from 10 to 11 pm. Whatever problems I had in my life, I wouldn’t let them interfere with or affect my studying. Whenever I found the smallest amount of time I would study.’ The community of learners supported and helped each other make sense of their lessons. Sudha’s family members also assisted her with any doubts or confusion she had about the learning matter.
The change in Sudha after she became literate was profound. Now she is confident that anywhere she goes, she will be able to handle the situation and herself. She can handle her shop inventory, the accounts, and the billing. Sales are up.
“I loved the classes! I felt good about myself, about the studying…and I liked it a lot when didi told us about the outside world,’ says Sudha. ‘I’m running my life and my business so well now. I feel the strength within myself and it feels great.”
Sudha hopes to continue her studies, acquire more knowledge and always maintain her independence, which is the most precious thing to her. But most of all, she has a glimpse of how the outside world works.
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