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Self reliance through literacy among illiterate women in Goalpara

By Roop Choudhury

GOALPARA, Nov 3 - It is a universal truth that literacy stands for power and the case of Madhubala Banikya who is in her seventies will inspire many and is worth emulating when it comes to reading, writing and to do basic arithmetic. For Madhubala Banikya, age was no bar for learning as she persevered for two months at the female literacy centre at Dhupdhara and had the opportunity of breaking into the world of traditional literacy to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a functional literate. She can now identify letters, read out words, write her name and address and can do simple arithmetic, according to Yogabrata Choudhury, instructor of the Literary Centre, Dhupdhara.

Another shining example is that of 45-year-old Vipina Das of Bamunpara village, a homemaker with no exposure to education and any working environment, who faced the daunting task of handling the finances of her entire household. She enrolled herself in the Female Literacy campaign at Ranjuli development block and that inspired her to learn, become independent and also helped in building up her confidence. She can now write her name properly and no longer uses her thumb impression to operate her bank account, according to her facilitator Padum Das.

The literacy campaign initiated in the district has brought about significant changes in the lives of women. Women from ages 25 to 61 are participating in the programme. They have been sharing their experiences with one another, which in turn has motivated other members of their families and communities to join the programme and fight poverty, according to some newly-functional literate participants at the learning centre at Kayasthapara.

According to official sources, a special campaign for eradicating female illiteracy in the district was launched initially in the Ranjuli development block under the initiative of the district administration in synergy with the district Adult Education Department and the Piramal Foudation. In the first phase of the pilot project, a total of around 690 facilitators chosen from the community were oriented by the Adult Education Department in order to assist and respond to the diverse needs of participants in the female literacy campaign.

According to the Piramal Foundation, female education has a transformative impact on the society and the progress in improving the female literary situation in the district was taken up by the district administration under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner Varnali Deka, who chalked out a comprehensive plan to initiate a transformation in advancing women�s literacy and to reduce gender disparities in the district. Piramal Foundation also praised the efforts of the District Development Commissioner, Indrewar Kalita, under whom the district management committee was formed.

Talking to this correspondent, Deputy Commissioner Varnali Deka said that the objective of the literacy programme is to reduce the magnitude of the non-literate women by reaching out to them in the aspirational district of Goalpara.

Deka also said that the concept of women empowerment has been tied up with a range of activities and the entire four-month-long intensive campaign was closely integrated in convergence with the Adult Education Department, SSA and the Education Department with the support of Piramal Foundation to achieve 100% female literacy. She informed that the programme was first launched in the Ranjuli development block and later on to be replicated in the other seven development blocks of the district. Deka further asserted that female literacy contributes to the reduction of poverty and improvement in livelihood and promotes empowerment which facilitates stronger and confident social and political participation. This is achieved due to the larger role in decision making at home, reproductive and overall health practices and income earning activities.

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