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Education Worldwide

Becoming a Literate Adult on the Fast Track in India


According to the CIA World Fact Book, 73 per cent of men and only 48 per cent of women in India above the age of 15 can read and write. Being illiterate basically means no chance to escape from poverty, learn vocational skills and create a viable income.

In order to empower especially women in rural areas, the NGO Development Alternatives Group launched the programme Tara Akshar in 2005. Tara Akshar uses the ReadingWise technique for learning, which teaches reading and writing Hindi in only 35 days.

The ReadingWise technique was invented by Victor Lyons and is a synthetic method, going from letters to syllables to words. Memory techniques such as memory hooks are the core of the method. For example, cartoons telling stories with letters acting as a protagonist or letter-image associations help the students to remember letters easily. The example below teaches the Hindi letter Ga. The Hindi word for carrots is gajar. Each learning session takes place in a classroom and lasts for 100 minutes. A lesson consists of five sessions of twenty minutes, alternating between reading, writing and practice on and off the computer.

Instructors receive an eight day intensive training course to learn the method properly. There are currently more than 100 centers around India. Each center can take about 30 students. Students come to class six days over a time period of six weeks. By the end of the programme, students have to pass a written comprehension test with 100% correct answers.

So far, the average pass rate is around 97 per cent. Drop out rate is roughly 3 per cent. To date, Tara Akshar hast helped more than 60,000 women to become literate in Hindi. Tara Akshar offers a reading club for graduated students and works on a postgraduate programme for their students become employable by acquiring relevant job skills.

Image with courtesy of ReadingWise.