Indian educationist launches literacy program for out-of-school children, adults

New Delhi (IANSlife) Global Dream Shaala, an initiative for providing free education to out of school children starting with Uttar Pradesh, launched earlier this week on Human Rights Day. The initiative will promote functional literacy and numeracy among masses, and was born out of an observation of underprivileged children aged 6-14 unable to read even a one-paragraph story fluently.

According to educationist Dr. Sunita Gandhi, “Our primary objective with Global Dream Shaala is to provide a zero-cost scale-up model of learning that is both quick and effective, and that makes learning gain real every day. This keeps the motivation of both volunteers and learners high.”

A pilot of this approach was carried out with 22 women volunteers in Karauni village in a rural block of Lucknow. Soon, these women turned teachers and within the first few months prepared 180 women to take the NLM Basic Literacy Exam by NIOS. Together, they made more than 800 women in Karauni capable of reading, writing, numeracy. Later, the program was carried out in other cities targeted to educate underprivileged children, adults and their mentors. may themselves be illiterate. Their main roles are motivating learners and facilitating their learning as in the new version, the videos do the entire job of teaching. The volunteers too become literate in the process. This will prove helpful in tapping into opportunities to scale up these projects across Uttar Pradesh, starting with Lucknow’s urban slums. There are plans to expand the initiative across India including Tier 2 and 3 cities and to take the children from basic literacy to Class 3 and 5 levels within the program.

The Global Dream Toolkits, which are used as curriculum to teach illiterate people, help learners start to read much faster than other existing primers and curriculums. Many learners can begin to read within one to two months with just 15 minutes learning sessions per day. This is one of the biggest attractions for a learner and the excitement for them is real when within the first 15-minute sessions itself, they can begin to read six words and associate ten letters.

The approach to teaching and learning is vastly different. The toolkit begins by learners relating pictures that are known to them with their first sounds, and then combines two sounds to make real words. This takes a learner from the known (picture) to the picture’s first sound (also known) to the letter symbol (the unknown). This keeps the learner engaged by making mind connections which is vastly different from rote learning. It uses greater thinking time and other research-based techniques to accelerate learning. With merely 5 lessons and within 10-15 days, most learners are able to recognize all letters of the Hindi alphabet. In another 10-15 days, they can read a newspaper. Many of the children that begin in the program could not recognize letters or read a simple passage even after having attended school for three to five years.

Dr. Sunita Gandhi, Founder, Global Classroom Private Limited (GCPL) & Global Education & Training Institute (GETI) told IANSlife: “The way we approach education is very much reducing to a minimum the capacity of the children using only their left brain and focus only on very small, narrow perspective of academic learning. We may fill the course with a lot of different facts and figures and so forth, but real learning is very limited. So in India, we need to consider a vastly different education, learn from global research. Out of the three level of reform, one is the content itself, which happens to be things that you can look up on the internet, things that you already know or can know just through rote learning or reading. Content has to be rethought of. Second, the process by which we teach and learn are pretty archaic and old. They need reform dramatic reform. We find a lot of lot of kids get dropped out along the way or the interest wanes, they’re not motivated by the system of education. We think that children should be strong enough to take care of themselves and or parents will take care of that side of things. But the reality is that many children are falling out of the cracks and they’re not being able to lift themselves up again and see themselves as having any meaningful engagement with life because they feel they’re not good enough. We should be doing just the opposite, we should be making her feel that every child is capable of getting the highest success, and serving their own families and communities,”

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