|Image Courtesy: Do Right and Tata Capital|
The literacy has two levels of perspectives, National and Individual. A democratic country like India needs National level literacy to build a strong foundation for its economy, social structure and political background. A literate population has the awareness to live a better life and fight against corruption and manipulation. On the other hand, literacy at the individual level is required to make the person competent and confident to face the world with a new attitude.
Literacy, in today’s context is not limited to the reading and writing abilities of an individual. It has a broader sense in guiding people towards achieving the awareness to make the changes for a better living. The Indian government has established the mission against illiteracy in 1988 in the form of The National Literacy Mission. This mission resulted in rise in a literacy rates (74.04% in 2011 from 52.21% in 1991), but still we are way below the target of 100% literacy.
India has a huge population of over 1.2 billion and is the world’s most populous democratic country with 29 states and 7 union territories. This enormous population and size of the country can create different problems in its true development. In these circumstances, literacy is the primary requirement for economic development of the country with India having 287 million illiterate adults (37% of the world). In India4India Survey conducted by TATA Capital, 18.78% people sighted illiteracy as the major challenges that India is facing today. This led them to their next venture in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; the cultural, traditional and religious centre of India. As one of the oldest cities of India with its unique, colourful and chaotic nature, thousands of people every day comes to the different Ghats of the holy river Ganga to wash away their sins and thereby making this portion of the Ganga most polluted.
In the Ghats of Maa Ganga, hundreds of children are seen to be engaged in various trades and wasting their time in an aimless manner. This way they are getting more and more away from essential learning. The good thing is that in this world, there is always some place for good people with capacity of contemporary thinking. A novel “Boat School” has been set up by the NGO Guria to help these children, under the leadership of Ajeet Singh. This innovative Varanasi boat school will serve as the stepping stone in the learning world for these children. They will spend two hours every day to play, study and revise after their regular schooling without any added tension or pressure.
This boat school has serious potential to make an inspiring environment for these children and deserves further enhancement. This can create magical transformation in the world of these children through the ideal learning environment.
But, at this point the school needs a magical transformation itself in the form of restoration and makeover of the interiors including a library, educational toys, stationery, a computer and a painting kit. These are essential minimum for proper education of these children. If this venture is more successful in Varanasi than similar efforts can be replicated throughout the country, thereby ensuring a better future of India.