Students turn teachers by evening to eradicate illiteracy in rural Jharkhand | ranchi | Hindustan Times
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Students turn teachers by evening to eradicate illiteracy in rural Jharkhand

In a first of its kind initiative, the state school education department aims at fighting illiteracy by mobilising school-going teenagers to educate their illiterate family members.

ranchi Updated: Nov 03, 2016 15:10 IST
Saurav Roy
Several children are showing interest in teaching not only their family members but also other villagers.
Several children are showing interest in teaching not only their family members but also other villagers.(HT Photo)

Fifteen-year-old Ravi Munda from a village in Bundu block here returns home from school every afternoon and sits at least for an hour with his illiterate father to teach him how to write his name in Hindi. He also helps him identify characters in the Hindi Varnmala (alphabet) and single digit arithmetic numbers.

Like Munda, several other students from interior areas are turning teachers by evening in a bid to eradicate illiteracy from their villages.

This first of its kind initiative of the state school education and literacy department is aimed at fighting illiteracy by mobilising school-going teenagers to educate their illiterate family members. Now, it has gained momentum across the state.

Students in villages of East Singbhum and Ranchi districts have been the most active under the campaign, officials say.

School education and literacy secretary Aradhana Patnaik said it was not only causing awareness among villagers about the importance of literacy but also encouraging young students to take up responsibilities for social cause.

“Involving children from classes 8 to 10 in teaching their illiterate family members was one of the ideas we came up with in October during a meeting held to prepare an action plan against illiteracy,” said Patnaik.

She said it was working out very well as of now, with several children showing interest in teaching not only their family members but also other villagers.

In a bid to boost the literacy rate in Jharkhand and to measure the effectiveness of literacy campaigns in state, the Raghubar Das government has shifted the focus from individuals to panchayat as a part of a strategic change.

Under this fresh campaign, the state opened adult literacy centres in villages under 500 blocks. Besides being taught at home by their younger ones, the Illiterate adults would be imparted education at these centres and prepared for a literacy test on March 15 next year. The villagers who pass the test would be declared literates.

The state aims to ensure that at least 20 lakh villagers from 500 panchayat pass the exam, officials said. A similar test was also conducted in August 2015, in which around 18 lakh villagers appeared and 15 lakh passed, sources said.

Ranjan Mahato, a literacy worker from Angada block of Ranchi, said involvement of children in teaching illiterate adults broke communication barriers by making targeted adults comfortable asking questions without feeling ashamed.

“Villagers are comfortable asking questions to children from their own family. They may not be so comfortable if an outsider tries to teach them,” he said.

Kashinath Chaterjee, national general secretary of Bharat Gyan Vidyan Samiti (BGYS), however, said such campaigns can bring literacy only in pen and paper not in reality. BGYS advocates literacy for self-reliance in Indian villages.

Patnaik said her department had conducted a survey this year to check the number of literates in panchayats and results showed that only 35 of 4,546 panchayat in Jharkhand were fully literate.

As per the 2011 census, the literacy rate in Jharkhand is 66.41%. Of that, male literacy stands at 76.84% while female literacy is at 52.04%. The total population of Jharkhand is 3.29 crore, which means nearly 1 crore residents of Jharkhand are illiterate.