My Magic Box of Learning

  By Sagarika Ranjan Jul 19 2018

"Each One Teach at least One” is the magical spell making India literate.


Wiping of the sweat beads from my forehead I was eagerly waiting for my bus to start again. I was travelling to Barabanki– a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India. It was only some few kilometers away when the driver pulled off for a break. Pretty annoying but something had just caught my attention. 


It was a village panchayat. Not everyday I get to see one of these trials and therefore, I checked with the conductor of the bus, I had time and I wasted none. Straight I was now among the audiences for the panchayat.


It was very interesting to see how a very old woman, probably in her 70s, was claiming that the postman had taken her money order. The Postman, on the other hand, claimed that it was a mistake as the woman was illiterate. This remark infuriated the old lady and she read out loud to the crowd - - she was reading the hoardings and posters on the walls and poles all around. The panchayat now was convinced that the postman was at fault. The records were being looked into when my bus began to honk as it was time to leave however, I decided to stay. Not everyday you come across a woman who was illiterate all her life and suddenly became literate during the Autumn of her life. I decided to stay back and find out. 


The panchayat decided in the favour of the woman and she got her money order. The panchayat was done for the day and as the crowd dispersed, I took the opportunity to introduce myself  to the woman. She was an excited soul, very easy to talk to. I couldn’t hold my question for long -- I asked: “When did you begin reading?” She said: three months back. “From Where, who taught you?”, said I and she replied -- “Teacher didi taught me with her magic box and she taught me the magic too. I am also a teacher now. I teach the women in my village”.


Her replies only fueled my curiosity further. I set on with her to know the magic box and about the woman who suddenly was literate and was running a school. 


While I followed her to her place, the saying -- you can do anything was hovering in my mind. There it was -- a small makeshift arrangement made out of bamboos. A small 4 x 6 cabin-kind. Outside it was written -- Global dream lab while inside there was precious wealth of alphabets, some reading tools and these belonged to the magic box. 


Research and queries about the Global Dream Literacy Programme revealed that in 2014 was launched a highly innovative toolkit to promote literacy, the Global Dream Toolkit. Global Dream has turned into a people’s movement for making India literate. The Global Dream Toolkits are used as the curriculum to teach illiterate people to read and write. They perform much faster than other existing primers and curriculums. 


At the heart of the transformation process is a TOOLKIT for Global Dream Literacy Programme and a Campaign: "Each One Teach At Least One." Anyone who can read, can teach anyone to read. They can learn anytime and anywhere. Using this TOOLKIT most anyone can learn to read a newspaper within a month, with an average of 20-minute sessions per day. 


What’s more? Anyone can teach, even children of Class IV or V.


Next steps in the programme includes writing and numeracy that will take an individual to Class III level of proficiency within two months. With the NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) Open Basic Education programme, the learners 15 and above can take a NIOS test at Class 3 level and join the mainstream.


Dr Sunita Gandhi, the brain behind the project feels that it is easier to convince a child 6-14 to go to school after they have already felt empowered by the mere act of being able to learn much in a short span of time, whether it be simply reading or greater levels of achievement in language and numeracy. In Global Dream, a learner starts to read two-letter words from the first day and this creates inner motivation and the impetus in him/her to carry on, she adds.


The project has changed over 10 lakh lives and is operative in 13 states and counting. The magic box or the TOOLKIT is available in 13 different languages, and so farmore than 3,50,000 kits have been used. 


It was amazing to find out about the project and when I was about to leave that evening, the same postman came. He had come with a bundle of marriage invitations and one of them was for Shanti Devi -- my dear old lady.


While the postman was parking his bicycle, Shanti Devi picked up the bundle and started fishing for her invitation herself. After a minute she put the bundle down while holding one card in her hand. When the postman walked up to her, running her fingers on the words written on the card, she said: “Shanti Devi, Dekhabb hum padh sakit hae (See I can read now)." 


The satisfying confidence on her face was worth everything. A small magic box had done its magic and the best part -- there are lakhs out there carving more smiles with Global Dream.

On Jul 19 2018 0 6

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