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A school that opens minds

November 14, 2007
Text: Archana Masih | Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

It is an unusual class. With heads covered under veils, the female students outline Hindi alphabets gesturing with their fingers, then with their heads. They move their heads as if they were writing giant alphabets in the air.

In one of India's poorest regions where female literacy is remarkably low, this group between the ages of 15 and 22 is learning to read and write -- for the first time.

Today is day 17 of the study programme created by a maverick Englishman that aims at teaching illiterates to read and write Hindi in 30 days. The class is identifying letters from flash cards and a laptop computer -- which uses the shapes of vegetables that resemble alphabets to make them remember better.

A peek into the class

Among a cluster of rundown huts belonging to the conservative tribal Muslim Meo community in Mewat, Haryana, the girls come from poor labourer homes. None have been to school before but when a local NGO announced it would be opening a study centre, they had enrolled, fired with the desire for an education.

Image: The Tara Akshar literacy centre in Mewat, Haryana.

Also read: The Daughters of Bihar

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