Making literacy an achievable dream


Education can help children realise their true potential and achieve their dreams. But when denied an education  opportunity, their dreams are shattered. UNICEF reports that globally schoolchildren have lost an estimated 1.8 trillion hours of in-person classes, thanks to Covid.  Thus India, already grappling with problems such as  lack of infrastructure, gender disparity and access to internet, faces new challenges.

Rotary has  a history of tackling the world’s most challenging humanitarian issues and an  example  is the Rotary India Literacy Mission (RILM), which aims to achieve total literacy through quality education. In Jan 2021, RILM partnered with CRY to bring back to school dropouts, out-of-school and laggard children  under the ‘Asha Kiran’ programme. Rotary continues to support the GoI by providing e-learning modules broadcast through 12 national TV channels of NCERT for Classes 1–12, also available on GoI’s mobile app Diksha.

We also want to improve teacher training, more important than ever to ensure collaborative learning, and adult literacy. To sharpen and upgrade teachers’ skills to be digitally savvy, in a five-day workshop, RILM trained 70,000 teachers in Maharashtra and 5,000 in Delhi to use e-learning tools. We want to create a standardised teacher-training module that will create an inclusive and vibrant ecosystem.

RILM’s success in improving literacy levels in Indian children notwithstanding, it’ll be difficult to achieve total literacy without addressing its estimated 287 million illiterate adults. Rotary works actively on adult literacy, and RILM has developed tools to help adults get functional literacy, such as reading street signs, writing their names, etc.

RILM’s Happy Schools programme provides infrastructural and co-scholastic facilities in state-funded schools to provide a positive environment to get better attendance, higher retention and improved concentration. Through Rotary clubs and districts, RILM has successfully transformed 3,112 government and government-aided schools across the country.

Rotary aims to create a student-centred, purpose-driven, inclusive and real education system in which teachers, curriculum, pedagogies, assessments and learners are made future-ready. Ahead of Teachers’ Day and Rotary Literacy Month, I extend my greetings to the teaching fraternity for their selfless service in nurturing young minds. My gratitude to all Rotary clubs and districts which have innovated and ensured the education journey of students even during the pandemic.

Let us together create a system that makes children’s lives better and turns them into leaders who will impact their communities, nation and the world.

Dr Mahesh Kotbagi
RI Director, 2021–23

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