WLC in India
Why is the “Ride to Read” centered on raising funds for World Literacy Canada (WLC)? Find out what makes this organization so special and what their work in India is all about. Visit WLC’s page at www.worldlit.ca .
Based in Toronto, Canada, World Literacy Canada (WLC) is a small, registered charitable organization that uses literacy to fight poverty and advance the cause of social justice, especially for women and children. WLC supports and delivers a range of community-based education projects in Canada, India, and Nepal.
- Literacy Education:with over 56 years experience in successfully delivering literacy education, WLC believes that illiteracy is both a cause and consequence of poverty. Literacy is about much more than just reading and writing – it is about access to jobs, the market, and how we participate in an increasingly interconnected world
- Women: the common thread in WLC’s work is empowerment – fostering literacy skills among women and children that will enhance their standard of living, enabling them to live with greater independence and dignity.
- Remaining Community Based: WLC is very focused in their approach to tackling poverty, and that focus comes from direct consultations with the communities where they work. First, they encourage the formation of a mahila mandal (women’s group) that act as an advisory council and decision-making body on the projects. These groups often take on a life of their own, becoming centres of community leadership and empowerment. As well, WLC focuses on providing quality education through nine locally-based partner agencies in India and Nepal.
- Committed to Lean Administration: As a modest non-profit organization, WLC’s small staff in Toronto and the team in Varanasi have learned how to effectively deliver first-rate programs that make life better for the thousands of individuals and families we reach. Those visiting the South Asian programs from overseas invariably comment on the efficiency with which WLC uses funds raised by individual and corporate donors, as well as grants received from public-sector funding agencies.
Development in India
At World Literacy Canada, programming is focused in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh – the most populous and impoverished in the country. With a population of 200 million, Uttar Pradesh would rank as the world’s 5th largest country if it were independent.
With the help of nine local partners, WLC works in 555 urban slums and villages of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. Their work reaches over 250 000 people directly, and over 555 000 indirectly, mainly women and children.
Despite a dominant narrative of prosperity and upward mobility, the eight poorest states of India contain more people living in absolute poverty than in Africa’s 26 poorest countries combined. With income disparities widening and intensifying gender inequality, it is important to continue providing hope and opportunity to the 645 million citizens who have no access to India’s newfound wealth.
WLC’s India Programs
Read about the India office here: http://www.worldlit.ca/about-india-office/
In partnership with the Pearson Foundation, the successful Teacher Role Modelproject dramatically expanded WLC’s reach throughout the Eastern Uttar Pradesh region, and has now been merged with the ongoing core education program. The addition of 400 teachers to the ranks means that more than ever, WLC is focused on providing
- quality training and new innovative curriculum materials
- bicycles for teacher mobility
- quality classroom supplies.
The Hindi-language Adult Literacy Classes educate women, families, and their communities. Many of these women have never received any formal education and thus cannot read, write, nor do simple math. These literacy classes are delivered by trained local teachers and employ such modest tools as shared chalkboards, pencils, notebooks, tarp mats, and tin trunks for storage. Classes usually take place in a woman’s house or in an outdoor open space. We ensure the quality of learning through regular monitoring and mentoring by experienced teachers and staff.
Currently, over 8800 women are enrolled in literacy classes, with over 55% of these women accessing other WLC services such as libraries, health education, or skills training.
Literacy enables a person to exercise his or her right to participate in governance, to affect decision-making, and to make one’s voice heard. Literacy gives a person confidence that his or her opinions and contribution matter. This is the essence of democracy, and literacy is a central vehicle for achieving this goal.
World Literacy Canada assists women leaders of local communities in establishing a mahila mandal , a democratically elected women’s group. They meet regularly to discuss issues and needs, and act as the decision-making body on all components of the integrated community program.
These mahila mandals are the fundamental building block for the development program in isolated communities throughout eastern Uttar Pradesh and the adjoining rural regions of Nepal. There are now over 12 000 women participating actively in these advocacy groups, providing leadership to their respective communities.
- WLC provides resources to mahila mandals about human rights, government services and how to access them, and guidance about how to make positive changes in their homes
- supports women to become self-advocates and fight for their rights
- provides spaces for women to make their voices heard
- encourages women to become involved in local government and to run in elections
- coordinates the celebration of International Women’s Day by organizing a Kabaddi sports tournament
Skills training (Social Enterprise Project)
WLC’s skills training program offers women, graduating from literacy classes, the opportunity to learn skills for employment. Through a local partner, WLC offers sewing centres which also train women in accounting, marketing and sustaining small businesses. The program offers women small loans to start their own business and assists women in establishing savings groups.
The Social Enterprise Project:
- 33 communities access skills training and social enterprise projects
- 1125 graduates this year have seen an average increase of 500% to their personal income
- 3800 small loans were accessed by women to start their own businesses
*text and images used with permission of World Literacy Canada*