After her father fell ill, the responsibility of the household fell on the shoulders of 18-year-old Seema. Their financial condition would not allow her to get an education, yet she decided to step up and use her stitching skills to support the family of three.
On the outside, she had a timid countenance, but on the inside, Seema Kumari of Uttar Pradesh, was a girl bubbling to be her own person.
When in the beginning she did not even know how to write her name or read a measuring tape, today Seema runs a tailoring centre in her village, Wair in Bulandshahr. Other than that, she also trains four young girls to help empower them.
For her success, she thanks Baby ma’am and Shiksha+, a Shiv Nadar Foundation initiative. Shiksha+ is an accelerated technology-enabled, adult literacy and learning programme, that works towards mobilizing communities to educate individuals with zero or limited literacy.
It all started in 2018, when Baby Gola, a Shiksha+ instructor, went door-to-door in Seema’s village, spreading awareness about an adult literacy programme that could change their lives. Seema was one of the many who came to the batch formation activity.
“When Seema joined, she was extremely shy, but slowly, she opened up and bloomed as a student. What’s special about her is her insatiable hunger to learn. I still remember that in the 90 days of classes, she never missed a day. She would be the first to arrive in class and the last one to leave!” recalls Baby, who taught her to read and write in Hindi, while equipping her with basic math skills too.
Started by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, Shiksha+ module is focused on enhancing the learning experience for adults by empowering them with information and knowledge relevant to their daily lives and professions. With the use of a methodology that combines technology and experiential learning, they teach a variety of subjects, from language to mathematics, helping them get better at their current employment, or seek more opportunities.
According to the instructors of Shiksha+, Seema’s curiosity and dedication towards learning were among her most admirable qualities. After completing the 90-day course, she requested an extension of 45 days, because there was always something more that she wanted to know and learn.
That has still not changed for this 19-year-old, despite her overwhelming familial responsibilities.
“When I ask her what’s next, all she says is that she wants to learn more!” adds Baby.
Seema has been one of the many success stories that the instructors proudly share.
“From making bank transactions to reading prescriptions and assessing the expiry date of medicines, to upskilling her tailoring venture with the help of the newly gained knowledge of measurements, Seema has changed for good. Her overall personality has also transformed. She is more confident, and has driven many more like her, including her mother, to join the module,” says Baby.
“Everything in my life has become so different. I can go anywhere, and talk to anyone. I know Hindi, and I am practising reading whenever I find the time. Now I want to learn English too. I know if someone tells me ‘thank you’, I should say ‘welcome’, but I want to learn what that means,” shares Seema, with a proud smile!
Part of the Shiksha initiative, which has already impacted 25,000 students in 500 schools, Shiksha+ has also reached out to almost 2,000 adult students in the past 2 years. Shiksha was started by Shiv Nadar Foundation in 2012, with an aim to eradicate illiteracy from India, with the help of an easily replicable, scalable and measurable model. The Shiv Nadar Foundation was started by Shiv Nadar, the Founder and Chairman of HCL Enterprise in 1994 with an aim to bridge the socio-economic gap in society, by empowering individuals. Since then, the foundation has touched thousands of lives for good!