Illiterate in India – that’s me.
On Friday I stood in line awaiting my turn to buy a ticket to board the train. To the right, I saw a sign that said “monthly passses” and that line was closed, so I took the next one. As I stood in line, I noticed everyone had their ID with them. I was so happy I had my passport with me. Afterall, I rarely walk around with it since well.. I kinda need it. I had it because I was going for my visa change. So how did this turn into an illiterate in India experience?
Anyway, after around 5 minutes in line someone asked if I was in line to buy a ticket, I said, yes.
I was then informed I was in a monthly pass line.
I hopped to the next and the 20-somethings started laughing and pointed at a sign in (Marathi or Hindi) that apparently said I was in the monthly pass line.
That’s illiteracy. You can’t always assume you know what’s happening based on lines and such.
In the US I was not the smartest person out there, but I’d consider myself educated. But here, I can’t communicate more than a few sentences and I definitely cannot read anything.
I can’t imagine the struggle of every day life for those who are functionally illiterate and thus have no chance at non laborious jobs.
I can do things without language/literacy because I have relatively a decent amount of money. That allows me more than others.
So, while my 5 year old works on her Devanagari script, I’m thinking I need to learn a few more sentences (because reading without knowing what the words are would be a bit useless).
Literacy in India varies from the 40% rate to upwards of 90%, but even so there are still many kids, girls especially who never see a school building. This is in spite of a child’s right to education (RTE) act that makes school compulsory.
Here are some NGOs (non profits) that help with illiteracy.
- Literacy India
- India Literacy Project
- Smile Montessori – Educates underprivileged kids through the Montessori method
- Aseema Charitable Trust – Another Montessori-based education initiative in Mumbai that educates street kids and those hailing from slums. You can support them by purchasing crafts and supplies they’ve created for sale.
Literacy is important – it raises employment. It gives options to the less privileged. I remember in a college sociology class having a course on literacy and Kerala (state in India with highest literacy). Of course politics are at play as well, but literacy does impact livelihood. Heck if I searched I think I’d find that book I have 5 boxes of books left to unpack from our move (see I am literate!), and I did find a few relevant but not the right one (Worker in the Cane, one on middle class Mexican high schools and one that I recently read and need to re-read (The Case For Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World)