Rotarians in India seek to increase number of literate adults

By Kamal Sanghvi, Rotary Public Image coordinator, Zones 4 & 6A 

India has the highest number of illiterate adults at 287 million, which accounts for 37% of the world’s adult illiterate population (Source – Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2013-14: UNESCO). Rotarians in India are tackling this illiteracy problem through two programs.

The first is the “Rotary India Global Dream Each One, Reach One, Teach One” Campaign, an initiative to educate 100,000 illiterate adults, under our Adult Literacy Program. Through the program, 60,000 school children in 17 states act as student volunteer teachers. They are currently spending 30-45 minutes per day teaching illiterate adult learners to read.  To do this, they use a specially designed set of books and other teaching aids, at the low cost of USD1.50 per adult learner.  The books and teaching process were initially developed by the Devi Sansthan of Lucknow (an Indian organization focused on dignity and education) in collaboration with Rotary and have been translated into all major Indian languages.


A student volunteer teacher works with an adult in the Adult Literacy Program.

After the completion of 3 months of learning, the adult neo-literates are ready to take the government aided National Institute of Open Schooling examination, which certifies them as literates or a similar evaluation.  This past August saw approximately 333 adult learners appear to take the examination in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, with the results expected to be shared in January 2016.

The second program is the Rotary India Literacy Mission (RILM). This program is:

  • Training and recognising 5,000 outstanding teachers in primary schools.
  • Establishing 10,000 E-Learning Centers in schools.
  • Educating 100,000 adult non-literates.
  • Sending 100,000 children back to school.
  • Upgrading 1,000 elementary schools to Happy Schools to curtail student dropouts.

Adult literacy is only one component of the comprehensive program developed by RILM. This T-E-A-C-H program seeks to meet literacy and educational goals through teacher support, e-learning, child development, and happy schools.

As an RPIC and Vice-chair of the Rotary India Literacy Mission, I oversee the measures of external and internal public relations and communication channels with a view to establishing Rotary’s image in the field of literacy.  I also consider and approve all the important policy matters and general guidelines relating to the programs, fundraising activities and budget.


Adult learners sit for the examination certifying their literacy.

The reasonable measure of progress of any country is the level of literacy of its citizens.  If we want our children to be well educated and taken good care of, it is important that the parents or adults are educated first. Educating adults gives them the opportunity to make a mark for themselves and gives them a place of dignity in society.

For more information about Rotary India Literacy Mission, visit our website. If you have been involved in an educational and literacy project, please share below!


Making the most of GETS and Institute: Tips from Regional Leaders

The 2015-16 GETS and Institute season has begun! Many of you will be participating on GETS training teams. Even if you are not directly participating in training, these sessions are a great way to introduce yourself to a wide variety of Rotarians and communicate the value of your expertise.

As you prepare for your Zone GETS and Institute, consider the following selection of tips from Zone 30 RRFC Floyd Lancia, Zones 7B & Part of 8 RC Jessie Harman, and Zone 21A RPIC Leticia Parra Toledo.


Lancia: The most effective facilitation is not accidental – it’s the result of the facilitator spending hours familiarizing her/himself with the content and instructional materials, such as the GETS Leaders Guide. Make your own notes highlighting portions that are essential and need to be stressed and focused upon.  Your notes can be questions, in your own words, that will stimulate discussion in the event the session stalls.

Harman: Always focus on your adult learning principles – keep the learning material relevant, use examples which are meaningful, and ensure that governors have ample opportunities to share stories and learn from each other.  Also remember that adults learn in many different ways – so mix it up a bit – use case studies, small group discussion, large group discussion, individual reflection, even a role play.

Parra: Some months before GETS, I try to contact [district leadership] and introduce myself, explaining my role and the main points in the DG Manual.  I also tell them that there is a Rotary Public Image team with Rotarians who will be glad to attend and help them to achieve their goals.


RPIC Leticia Parra Toledo


Lancia: Don’t agree or disagree [yourself], ask for agreement or disagreement from others, or ask if anyone would like to add anything that can clarify the comment more fully. Don’t allow [one] participant to dominate. Stay on topic. Before adjourning ask for takeaways and or action plans.

Harman: Take time to plan and prepare the questions you will ask your governors elect.  Great questions prompt discussion, encourage individual and group reflection, and stimulate creative thinking.  Great questions are also empowering – they create a positive environment of mutual problem solving and respect.  Great questions also provide a useful roadmap – helping discussions to open up, change direction, even close down when required.

Parra: I try to keep the audience focused on what they will achieve: excellent goals.  I try to make a speech that is both meaningful and important to them, repeating key ideas and main points.  I invite DGEs to share their ideas on what they would like to work on in their districts.  Focus on friendly faces in the audience. Maintain eye contact with the listeners; I will find encouragement and support from their smiles and approving nods.

To see the full list of tips from these regional leaders, click here. Consider sharing your own tips in the comments section below!