The promotion and achievement of literacy among adult women in ANK’s target villages is the biggest challenge ANK faced since its inception. While many women realized the long term benefits of literacy, their need for literacy paled in comparison to the immediate necessities of their daily life. However, by sheer perseverance, ANK has managed to help some women make small strides towards functional literacy and others towards emerging literacy.
ANK began its literacy campaign in 1999-2000 by establishing 14 literacy centers in 10 target villages with approximately twenty-five students in each center. By 2001, a study by ANK of 170 learners showed that 37% women became functionally literate after one year of enrolling in literacy classes.
After a few years, though, the novelty of ANK’s approach to literacy wore off and fewer women participated in the classes. ANK then developed different approaches to literacy to keep the women engaged. Some of these modules included using TCS’s Akshardara program, a state-of-the-art computer software to teach literacy, paying daily wages to encourage women to attend literacy classes, giving grants to Self Help Groups for 100% literacy among members, and the “Each One Teach One” model, with younger children teaching their mothers.
By 2006-2007, ANK proudly reported that 75% of women in the target villages could sign their names. ANK hopes to continue to take its literacy drive forward to achieve its original target of 100% literacy for the women in its villages.