Let’s all work with josh to make India fully literate if not by 2018, then not later than 2020,” declared PRIP and TRF Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee, addressing the IGNITE session of the RILM at the South Asia Literacy meet.
Apart from tutoring the 37 incoming DGs, District Literacy Chairs, Zonal Literacy Coordinators and National Committee members, the orientation sessions addressed the needs and grievances of Inner Wheel members who used the opportunity to raise questions and interact with RILM office-bearers.
Giving an overview of the RILM initiatives so far, Banerjee said schoolchildren are changing the face of Indian villages as they insist their parents adopt best hygiene practices after being trained in WASH programmes at schools. The Literacy Mission was an “incredible project” which would change lives forever, making India one of the greatest countries in the world. “The mission is building up strength, numbers and adding more initiatives. We need the continued support and involvement of Inner Wheel members for women are the ones who bring up children, live with them and make them what they want to be,” he noted.
“Flood the social media with your selfies with children in Happy Schools for the world to know that we are changing lives,” said RID Manoj Desai. During a jeep ride into Pitagaria, a village near Bhubaneshwar recently, he was glad to find women using cell phones, children on the way to schools and piped water facilities on roadside — all with the help of Rotarians and Inner Wheel clubs. “Both Literacy and WinS are doing well in India. The pace is slow in some districts; we need to work on that as funds are not a constraint for these projects.”
RIDE C Basker, in his speech themed You are the key, hit the nail on the head by stating that the fundamental reason for illiteracy in India was lack of women’s empowerment. “Who will change the current scenario? We are the key,” he stressed. On a different plane, he said there was no clarity on how the education cess was put to use and “we should take up this issue with the government and help it to spend the cess efficiently.”
“To put it simply, IGNITE is a micro view of the TEACH programme, while the South Asia Summit offers a macro perspective of RILM’s mission, objectives and future initiatives,” said RILM Chair Shekhar Mehta. RILM Vice-Chair Kamal Sanghvi said the Literacy project was constantly looking for new ideas so that it could remain relevant for the changing times to get better results.
Interactive, lively sessions
A section of Inner Wheel members pointed out the difficulties faced by their survey teams as government schools did not cooperate. Also, rural teachers deserved more encouragement since they endured many hurdles and shouldn’t be clubbed with their urban counterparts for evaluation.
The Literacy Chair of Inner Wheel D 325 Aruna Taneja, who received an award at the summit, said, “This year the District has trained 600 teachers against a target of 300. Next year, we have a target of 1,000 teachers who will be trained by our volunteers from 38 clubs.”
Session chairs PDGs Bharat Pandya, Jawahar Vadlamani, and Kamal Sanghvi made the proceedings lively with visual presentations and interesting anecdotes.
IGNITE Chair Raja Seenivasan urged the delegates to make full use of the orientation sessions to become Literacy warriors so that every Indian joined this movement to eradicate illiteracy. “With 26 per cent of its population illiterate, India has the largest number of illiterates in the world, that is, nearly 30 crore.”