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The qualitative impact of TARA Akshar+ is multifold. We have success stories from the field where neo-literates have become part of the village’s administration, started enterprises and taken up the financial responsibilities of their families. Furthermore, their relationships and equations with different entities in their lives - family and community members have been energised. Literacy and financial literacy gives them the confidence to break free from shackles of dependency on others for daily tasks and the dynamics change for the better. They find themselves equipped to handle bank transactions, basic account keeping, they also understand the importance of investing in the education of their children and addressing issues that are essential for the betterment of the entire neighbourhood at large. The report below shows the improvement in different fronts of their lives.
An evaluation of the TARA Akshar+ programme in eastern Uttar Pradesh by India Development Foundation (IDF) shows the different aspects of impact that the program has created on neo-literates and gives us a sound idea of how the program is instrumental in bettering the lives of countless number of people, directly or indirectly.
The report reveals that there is significant learning of the letter in the neo-literates. Post the completion of the program, they are able to understand the letter, understand words and read basic sentences and do basic mathematics.
|•Before learning to read and write, others used to laugh at us for not knowing how to sign.
|•We stopped with thumb impressions. We can sign. Now others don’t laugh at us.
|•I couldn’t read or write before the TA+ classes.
|•Now I can write your (researchers’) names.
|•Earlier I did not pick up calls as I did not recognise numbers of the incoming calls.
|•Today I can write the names of everyone in our family, and recognise numbers of incoming call.
|•We used to live in shame and our Children would taunt us, hurt our self-respect.
|•Learning Hindi and maths is very important to us. It releases us of the shame we lived in for being uneducated.
Neo-literates share that their ability and comfort to communicate with others has also enhanced significantly. Before becoming literates, they would hesitate in conversing with others. Many of them would avoid going to their children’s schools without their husbands for parent-teacher meetings, however, this changed for the better once they finished the program. Not only are they able to communicate better with others on a one-to-one basis but are also able to talk on the phone better. They can read the names and dial phone numbers as well - something they needed constant assistance for.
|• Before TA+ we never could have articulated our thoughts to you (researcher).
|• Now we are able to speak to you without hesitation.
|• I see my brother talking over video calls, I still don’t know how to do that.
|• I haven’t mastered it yet. But I will gradually. Knowing to read and write are very important to doing this.
|• Earlier, we would not understand many of the words we use commonly, for instance ‘problem’.
|• Now we understand, feel confident to ask if doubtful and are less awkward. Some even say thank you.
|• We used to live in shame and our Children would taunt us, hurt our self-respect.
|• Learning Hindi and maths is very important to us. It releases us of the shame we lived in for being uneducated.
The Guest Sessions organized during Gyan Chaupali play a major role in making the neo-literates aware about the schemes and services that have been made available for them by the government. They also learn about how to avail these schemes and the benefits of the services not only for themselves but also their children. Since they can read now, neo-literates are seen reading newspapers and watching news more often than what they did before TARA Akshar+. They raise their concerns and bring to attention the issues that they are facing to the Gram Pradhan. Overall participation and awareness increases and women benefit from a better representation within the administrative bodies.
Social diseases such as dowry and domestic violence are serious crimes against women that are prevalent across the rural, urban, educated, uneducated, financially poor or well, alike. Although literacy cannot eliminate this social evil, illiteracy increases their problems and makes them more vulnerable to exploitation. More than that, literacy enhances the overall confidence of a woman and makes her more aware of her rights. Not only is she capable of taking a stand for herself and taking action, but also for another woman who is being exploited.
|• Earlier, in cases of dowry- related or domestic violence women were advised to keep matters hidden within the family, and generally remain silent
|• But our TA+ teacher showed us films on the computer saying that it is important to report such torture
|• When they would vote, these illiterate women follow instructions by their families and communities
|• At TA+ they also learn to think for themselves as literate women
There is enough evidence that supports the belief that literate women make better decisions keeping in mind theirs and their children’s health and well-being. Neo-literates shared with us that the classes on health and sanitation not only helped them understand daily hygiene issues but they also found themselves better prepared to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic and they understood as well as adhered all sanitary precautions.
TARA Akshar+ has benefitted neo-literates in ways more than one. The program has positive effects on women directly, and on society, indirectly. Graduates from TARA Akshar+ are more aware of the world around them individually as well as collectively. They see a holistic development in themselves and contribute to eliminating the roadblocks of efficient nation building.
|• Before TA+ we did not know about the infections caused by using a dirty rag during our menstruation cycle.
|• In the GC we were told using cloth during menstruation can cause infections. So, we started buying pads. We still use cloth to save money, but now we wash and dry the cloth well .
|• Earlier, we did not know how to properly care for our ill family members. We were scared to speak to the doctors.
|• Now If a family member is ill, we know how to take care. Our families agree we have learnt many useful things in TA+.
Note: Source of tables and charts - India Development Foundation.