Last week, on September 8, the world celebrated International Literacy Day. This year's theme “Literacy in a digital world” looked at the literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies and explored effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities within the digital world.
The Sreepur Village also celebrated this day as, currently, there are 130 mothers in the village who attend our literacy programme.
The environment in which women can acquire and retain literacy skills is shaped by various forms of social, economic and religious restrictions and for poverty-stricken women in rural Bangladesh, the opportunity to study is simply not an option. Instead many women stay at home spending most of their lives as housewives. which can create conditions where literacy skills can be lost which in turn leads to a new form of vulnerability. Our mothers are the best example of this vulnerability.
The Sreepur Village believes in addressing women's literacy to improve confidence and the quality of lives. This helps to reduce poverty, increases work opportunities and in doing so improves the mother and child’s health and well-being.
All of our mothers are required to participate in the literacy programme and when they arrive in the village, we assess their educational background and set their level according to ability. Some of our mothers are totally illiterate, some know the alphabet or a word or two and some can read and write a little. Our literacy facilitator uses the ‘reflective method’ which focuses on learning aspects from everyday life. Every day, we run two sessions for five groups, who are assessed according to their levels. The first two are beginner levels and respectively include approximately 30 mothers who don’t know the alphabet, and those who know the alphabet and can write their names. Then Level 1 is for those mothers who know some words, can read and write sentences and do some basic calculations. Level 2&3 is for those who can write sentences, do mathematic calculations and can write a small paragraph on known topics. The highest rank of the literacy programme is Level-4 which is equivalent to grade three of the National Curriculum and Text Book Board.
This year, to celebrate world literacy day, we arranged a programme to recognise our mothers hard work and achievements. Three mothers from every section were awarded for the highest attendance and for outstanding results. The mothers were very happy to get a prize and some of them have shared their feelings about their learning.
Manu, along with her two children, joined The Sreepur Village a year ago where she was put in Level 1 of the literacy programme. Manu said, “Before I could not write my name. I was very shy. When I came to The Sreepur Village, after seven days, I had to go to school. I was very nervous at the beginning, but I noticed some of the mothers didn’t know the alphabet, I was lucky because I knew that. Then, with the help of the facilitator and others, I quickly learned. Now I can read, write some short sentences and do some calculations. The most important thing is now I can help teach my children. They will learn from their mother which makes me feel immensely proud. I have a plan to set up a small tailoring shop after leaving here. So, this education will help me to lead a better life and for that I am very thankful to The Sreepur Village”