Sunday, March 3, 2013

महिला साक्षरता सशक्तिकरण कार्यक्रम

Since inception, IBTADA has been running SHGs of women which encouraged them to save money and raise credit on easy terms. However, as the members of the SHG were illiterate they were completely dependent on munshis (SHG record writers) and mal-practises (like false records, cheating, etc) crept in. This led to the idea of setting up Sakhi Gyaanshalas to impart basic literacy (3Rs – reading, writing, arithmetic) to women in rural areas was conceived in April 2011.  The project aimed at teaching 750 women at 50 learning centres over a period of 1.5 years
To initiate the process, IBTADA approached NIRANTAR, an NGO which was running women literacy programs in rural India. NIRANTAR introduced them to their educational programs and supported them with educational pedagogy and Monthly Information System (MIS). They also helped IBTADA in approaching various funding groups. Subsequently in 2011, IBTADA was funded by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (SDTT) for their women literacy project. 

Operations –

The project team consisting of an Executive Director, one Project Coordinator, one documentation coordinator and 5 field coordinators works in close coordination with 3 federations, namely Sangharsh Mahila Manch, Ramgarh; Savera Mahila Munch, Umrain and Kranti Mahila Manch, Laxmangarh.
Federations, the SHGs and clusters help in selection of villages, shiksha Sakhi and the women learners. At cluster level ‘Gyanshala Committees’ are being formed. The field coordinators operate in the field and directly interact with SHGs and clusters and play an important role in the implementation of the planned activities- village survey, PRA, identification of teachers, setting up of centres, etc. Teachers carry out the daily teaching sessions in the Gyanshala and maintain progress records of individual candidates. Additionally, they perform village visits and counsel irregular candidates.

Challenges –
The challenges faced by different stakeholders and the tactics adopted to meet them are discussed below –
Challenges – The biggest challenge faced by candidates are their socio-economic conditions. There is constant resistance from families against educating women after a certain age which arise due to narrow mindedness. Women who have traditionally lived inside the four walls of their home feel embarrassed in interacting with outsiders and attending literacy camps. Even families which are willing to educate them are unable to do so as the daily household responsibilities make it difficult for them to find time to attend the Sakhi Gyanshala. Additionally, women work as seasonal labourers on farms leading to irregularity in attending classes and hence slow learning.
TacticsBeing well aware of the socio-economic conditions in the villages and the resistance towards educating women, IBTADA has focussed on creating awareness and motivating women through personal door-to-door counselling by supervisors, short-term literacy camps and personal attention to class attendance.
ChallengesRecruiting and maintaining teachers (Shiksha Sakhi) have been a constant challenge due to limited availability of qualified women willing to work in rural areas at the minimal compensation levels offered by IBTADA. As a result, the motivation levels among teachers are generally low which adversely effects on the delivery of their responsibilities. In a given session different candidates are taught different lessons parallel depending upon their individual levels. Managing such parallel sessions is a Herculean task for a teacher.
TacticsEfforts are made to increase the involvement level of teachers through group meetings, discussions and training sessions. Field coordinators guide the teachers on the pedagogy during their regular visits to the centres.
ChallengesMonitoring the progress of candidates in an effective and transparent manner is the biggest challenge for coordinators and supervisors. Coordinators are dependent on teachers for weekly and monthly progress track of candidates at a particular centre. However, due to lack of training and carelessness, key elements of a candidate’s progress, like – attendance, de-growth, etc are not documented. Ensuring regular attendance of teachers and strict adherence to the course curriculum by the teachers are still unmet challenges.  
TacticsSupervisors and coordinators educate the teachers on preparing the MIS sheets. However, effective implementation and meaningful use of the MIS data remains a challenge.

Impact –
With so many challenges lingering over, it is an ordeal each day to make sure that centres work properly, more women are connected and keep coming regularly so as to have maximum impact.
But the results that are surfacing are worth all the trouble:
Direct Impact:
·         Women are getting their own sense of being: As the women learn, they are becoming confident and independent. They have learnt to read/write letters, use mobile phones, can read bank documents etc. Now they can go and buy things they need for the house rather than waiting for the husband to get it everytime. Women who had never moved out of their village alone, now can travel on their own, can read road signs, bus stations etc and find their way. Getting an exposure to an environment where are the focus, they are learning to talk freely and to a larger crowd, taking responsibilities, owning up to things and thus growing as confident, leading women.
·         Demand rights and justice: Women who work as daily wage labor like agricultural labor have learned to calculate their earnings and thereby protect themselves against any cheating by the employers. They check the MRP and even the calculations while purchasing household things. Due to inability to read, they have signed blank cheques and other papers without even reading them and have been cheated many a times, now at least they can check that the amount they have paid is the same as on the receipt.
·         Starting to get respect: As the women learn to read, husbands feel proud of them, they even sometimes delegate a few household works to them. Children also feel good that their mother can read. In fact, they even help her learn. People around gradually start respecting the women as she uses her education for practical purposes. But no matter what, men like to keep the power to themselves. Whenever any women has outspoken, they have shunned her, stopped her from going to Gyanshala, And that happens even with teachers. But the sad part is the women themselves feel who are we to have the power.
Indirect Impact:
With women getting educated and empowered, the impact is not limited to them but affects the lives around her as well:
·         Children: with education she can monitor her kids better and even encourage them to study. She can understand the needs like gives them money for school things freely rather than saying you are wasting money on useless things.
·         Home: She can better organize the homes. She can take care of all household needs on her own. She can conduct herself in a better way and thus create a better household environment. She even saves some money by self-managing things rather than paying someone else.
·         Community: She even encourages other women and children to study. She acts as a good example to others when she uses her education for getting her rights etc. She can lead and manage their finances like SHG rather than paying some munshi to do it. 

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