What do we mean when we talk about holistic adult education classes? The majority of Sister India students come to us between the ages of 18-35 without a background of formal education. As children, many were sent to work instead of school to help provide for their family’s meager income. Education has been a dream they never thought would be realized.
They are often cheated in the market because they lack the basic math skills to ensure they are receiving fair change. They work as day laborers because they lack entrepreneurial skills that would help them rise above their station. They borrow from money lenders at high interest rates because they do not have any other option. They sign their name with an X because they lack even this most basic skill.
For two hours each weeknight, eager students fill Sister India classrooms for a year-long program. Many make sacrifices to attend class; some bring their children.
In the first month, they will write their first letters, words and sentences on a personal chalkboard. Students will write their name for the first time and learn numbers 1-100. A woman’s first letters and numbers are a brave step toward breaking the cycle of abuse not only for herself, but also for her daughters and her family. The students become a caring community as together they take life-changing steps toward health and safety for their families.
Throughout the course of the year, they learn how to read, write and do math at a fifth-grade level. The students also learn how to stop borrowing and start saving. They are taught the importance of sanitation and a healthy lifestyle.
Women who have been told they have less value than their male peers learn their daughters are worthy of an education. They are taught how to recognize and prevent trafficking and child marriage. Their teachers introduce them to government improvement/ infrastructure projects, job availability in the area and other government programs available to them. Entrepreneurial skills enable students to start small businesses making food, soaps and other home goods.
After a year:
· 80% of students reach a 5th grade level of learning within the year!
· Student incomes increase by over 55% because of the classes.
· Over 30% of students once encouraged child marriage, but no longer do.
Student by student, India is transformed. Women see they are worthy of an education and opportunity. They form lasting friendships that are mutually edifying and encouraging. They rise above the poverty level and are able to save for the future. They send their daughters to school. A cycle of oppression and impoverishment becomes a cycle of hope and possibility. $25 changes a life forever!