Day 6: “We Lived Like Blind People”

Adult Literacy

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Learn more about the kinds of work many illiterate families must do to earn an income.

The gift of literacy

India has 18 official languages and hundreds of regional and tribal dialects. Many Indians speak more than one language - even 3 or 4!

Yet nearly 200 million women in India can't read ... and 1 in 3 adults in India are illiterate. And sadly, illiteracy is passed from one generation to the next.

Mission India's Adult Literacy Classes are giving these women and men the opportunity to learn basic literacy skills and improve life for their families today!

Each Adult Literacy Class has about 30 students. They meet 2 hours each night, 5 nights a week - for an entire year! Usually classes are held at night, so that it doesn't interfere with working during the day.

Literacy classes might meet in an open courtyard or under a tree in the local village. Sometimes the class is sponsored by a small local church, and the classes gather there. The class you saw in today's video was meeting in the front yard of the volunteer teacher's house!

Mission India provides training for the volunteer teachers and resources to teach the class, including lesson books and a chalkboard and chalk for each student, and a kerosene lamp. It costs $30 to enroll one student in a year-long class.

Literacy lessons

The literacy classes are organized into four primers, or lesson booklets, each covering 12 weeks of lessons. The first primer focuses on alphabet and number recognition, as well as writing, reading simple sentences, and learning basic math skills. These resources are available in about 20 of India's major languages!

By the end of the year-long course, graduates can reach a 5th grade level of education. This is the minimum education requirement in India for applying for government and other non-manual labor jobs. Students who graduate from Mission India's literacy classes are able to get better jobs and manage their family's income wisely.

That's not all! As the learners are practicing their reading and writing, they are learning life skills and lessons like:

  • Telling time
  • How to read a train schedule
  • Advice on keeping their families healthy and avoiding disease
  • How to use their new literacy skills to earn more money
    • (More details about this Self Help Training Program are featured in the Day 2 episode "Into the Slum")
  • Their rights and responsibilities as citizens (including the right to vote and to choose their own religion)
  • The importance of caring for God's creation (such as not throwing trash on the ground)
  • How to serve as leaders and role models in their community

Sharing the Good News

Most importantly, the literacy classes are a great way to open the door to sharing the Good News.

The Bible-based curriculum slowly introduces students to the Gospel, beginning with creation and later introducing Jesus as God's Son and Savior of the world. Each lesson includes a phrase from the Bible that offers students wisdom for living healthy, happier lives.

  • Click on the "Literacy Primer" tab above to see a real literacy lesson!

The classes are taught by believers who offer to pray with their students and care about their problems. Often new students are amazed that these classes are offered to them for free ... and that their teacher is so caring and concerned.

This is even more amazing to the many low-caste and Dalit (Untouchable) students who have grown up believing that they are not worth educating. It might be the first time they have ever met a Christian - and many students come to their teachers asking more about Jesus.

About 35% of graduates make a decision to follow Jesus - but the literacy classes are open to anyone and students are never forced to become Christian.

Even more exciting is that new worship groups often grow out of these literacy classes! And because these new believers can read God's Word, literacy classes are also helping to build Bible-literate churches in India.