“Literacy is power.” – Matt Taibbi
The bubbly, vivacious girl that Seema seems to be is a far cry from the shy, scared teenager that Baby, the Shiksha+ instructor cajoled into coming for the adult literacy classes. Seema lives in Wair, a small village in Bulandshahr district, UP. The main breadwinner for her family, Seema would take in tailoring and also teach other girls the rudiments of stitching clothes. When she joined the Shiksha+ classes, she discovered an insatiable appetite for learning. She acquired reading, writing, basic math, and discovered a love for books. Her instructor, Baby, says, “Of the 90 days of classes we had, Seema never missed a single day. Whatever time I came in to start the classes, she would be sitting there, waiting for me. She is so curious, I would sometimes find her pressing the buttons on my laptop!”
The changes in Seema might appear minor to the privileged folk, but in her life, they were like tsunamis. She keeps repeating that she has transformed completely. She can now confidently transact at the bank. She can read prescriptions and the date of expiry of medicines. And most importantly, she has learned how to use a measuring tape in her tailoring work. She specifically asked her instructor to teach her this skill, and Baby went over to Seema’s house and showed her how to use the tape. Just this addition of a simple tool has brought in much more business for Seema, and she is earning much better than before. She has even taught her young protégé how to use the measuring tape.
“Everything in my life has become so different. I can go anywhere, and talk to anyone, even the head of Shiksha+ here when he comes,” says Seema, giggling with happiness. “I know Hindi and I am practicing my reading whenever I find the time. Every time Baby ma’am holds classes around here, I go to her, ask her questions. Now I want to learn English too. I know if someone says ‘thank you’ to me, I should say ‘welcome’, but I want to learn what it means properly!”
The Shiksha+ module seeks to enhance the learning experience for adult learners. Trained instructors use a methodology that combines technology with teaching to provide basic literacy to adults who have never been to formal school. If the goal of this initiative is transformation, then Seema could easily be the poster child of Shiksha+.