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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Literacy, Society and the Government

I appreciate the 'Teach India Campaign' launched by The Times Of India. I wish them all success. As a Visiting Faculty to the University in M.P., I wish to share my own experiences.
Like I have mentioned earlier, I also teach in a private college (Journalism and Mass Communication) to be precise.
In the last few years I have realised that teaching English at college level is the worst nightmare that can happen! The students very often don't know how to write English Alphabets . I don't blame the students here. For, they have often told me in all earnestness that they hail from a village where they have never had an English teacher. And, even if they had , the teacher never came to the class. Either because the teacher was not interested or he/she was put on election duty.
So while the syllabus just states that I teach them Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs,etc. I have invariably ended up holding their hands and teaching them to write 'a, o, f, g, q,..', etc. To be honest, it is their immense faith and trust that has made me work in all earnestness.
But , I do realise how 'small and insignificant' they have felt whenever I have done so.Further, I have always had to respect their age. After all, being condescending does not help solve any problem. Does it? But this apart, it has always taken me more than 2 months to do so. Naturally, completing the given syllabus in the stipulated time has been quite an ordeal! Of course , I do appreciate the interest shown by giant organisations.
But,I feel that working at 'signature writing' alone is not going to help. If , we have to contribute towards literacy, we really need to do a survey first and understand the true picture. The problem lies not just with 'English',but with other subjects as well. Either, there is a lack of sincerity among teachers at primary and other levels, or they are overworked because of election work that is thrust upon them.
Any kind of social- upliftment can take place only if it is done after a thorough study of the problem. Besides, the Government- at the Central and State level, Schools, Universities, and wise men of the society must all participate in making the project successful. And most importantly, a kind and empathic approach is required for such a work. Otherwise it will result in discouragement and nothing else.
Any work, just to get the name in the newspapers will not help. Please!