Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Bangalore Bloggers' Meet & Akshara Foundation

Met few fellow bloggers from Bangalore today. We had a nice time chatting over coffee at the St. Mark's Road Barista. Surjo left early but not before telling me about the NGO he works for - Akshara Foundation. After he left Bhaskar, Aravind and me chatted for another 30-45 minutes, discussed almost everything under the Sun. Got some valuable insight about the IIM GD/PIs from Bhaskar, who is an IIMI alum himself. Aravind brought up the issue of dismal attendance at the meet and the stagnated growth of the group. We need to address these issues soon. I think I'll post about the group at Bangalore community at Orkut. If you blog and are from Bangalore, join the gang at "Blogger's of Bangalore" group at Google Groups. Please spread the word among your friends/colleagues.

Among various interesting topics discussed, the Akshara Foundation demands the foremost mention. Remember all the discussion about India which ended up cursing illiteracy? The problem happens to be a lot worse than it seems. Even though we claim two-thirds of the population to be literate, the number of functionally illiterate people can be much higher than one-third of the population. Counting someone among literates just because s/he can write her/his name seems rather absurd to me. Its time to tackle the problem or atleast acknowledge gravity of the problem. I quote from Deccan Herald's second edit (21/01/06)

.. 98 per cent of children aged between 6-14 years are enrolled in schools in rural Karnataka. While this is creditworthy, what is shocking is that 45 per cent of them cannot solve simple numerical sums of subtraction and division. Around 53 per cent of children in the 7-10 age group cannot read even a small paragraph with short sentences from a Standard I text book. The Pratham survey reveals that standards of education in states other than Karnataka are no better, but this is no consolation.

It would be unfair to blame the teachers alone for the state of affairs. As a matter of fact, government school teachers are well-qualified. But the trouble lies with the kind of education provided. While the emphasis in Standards I and II should be on developing reading and writing skills, the focus is now merely on teaching from text books, which makes learning boring for little children.
The Akshara foundation is a part of Pratham Network which did the survey for this report. They have specific programs to deal with this particular problem. They call them Accelerated Learning Programs. Being a non-profit NGO, they need the support of the community to achieve the goals they've set. The bangalore blogosphere is contributing; a blogspace is maintained to keep other's posted about the proceeding - Everyman's City. Please read through their call for volunteers. Please join in and/or spread the word.

No comments: