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N.S.135
MOTIVATING ADULTS TO BECOME LITERATE
AN INDIAN EXPERIMENT IN LITERACY METHODS
AIDS TO PROGRAMMING UNICEF ASSISTANCE TO
EDUCATION
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By :
August 1983
D.V. Chickermane
Director
Research Centre in Rural Education
Gokarn, Karnatak
India
ORIGINAL : ENGLISH
Unit for Co-operation with UNICEP and WFP,
Unesco, Paris
The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and
do not necessarily reflect those of Unesco.
ED-83/WS/95
MOTIVATING ADULTS TO BECOME LITERATE
I.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM
One of the major problems facing adult literacy classes is that
of MOTIVATION. Unless the adults are properly motivated to attend
classes and participate in its work diligently, the classes will not
succeed.
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II.
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Adults as a rule are not interested in literacy classes. *
They have their own full load of work. Moreover, they see
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no advantage in attending such classes. They equate reading J
and writing with employment in government or mercantile
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services and the illiterate adults in rural and peri-urban
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communities have no scope for such employment and have no
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ambitions in that direction. They usually complain of hard
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work, lack of spare time, and disinclination to attend such
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classes. As a result, there are many drop-outs in adult
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classes, even when due to campaigns the initial enrolments
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seem encouraging.
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WHY ADULTS ARE NOT MOTIVATED?
Adults who continue are, however, bored by OUR METHODS OF
TEACHING.
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The methods usually adopted are those of the class-room. %
All the learners are treated as belonging to a single class
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and teaching is addressed to the class as a whole, without
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considering individual differences. But the adult class is
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not a school class in the sense we think of. Owing to
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frequent absences, interest and aptitude, there are varying
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levels in the class, ranging from those who barely acquire
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an ability to read to those who advance quite satisfactorily. %
Since theve is no fairly uniform level, teaching to the class J
falls flat on the adults who easily get bored.
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Another reason for reduced motivation is the nature and quality
of READING MATERIALS.
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III.
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The reading materials presented for study should touch J
upon the interests of adults. Many classes use reading
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materials intended for children. The adults are not
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interested in such materials. Their interests are centred
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round themselves3 their belongings and their work. In
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addition, many, adults are interested in religious, sotries.
Thousands of illiterate adults attend Vitohba's— fair in
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Pandharpur regardless of heavy rainy weather. They would
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like to recite poems of Vithoba, chant prayers and listen to J
the stories of devotees of Vithoba. If such matter is
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presented for reading practice, the adults would not be bored J
in reading, on the other hand, they would be stimulated. They\
would like to learn to read them by themselves.
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LOCATION AND MAIN FEATURES OF THE EXPERIMENT
An experiment in running an Adult Literacy Class to meet these
difficulties was organised by the writer at Gargoti. The class was held
in the Community Hall of the Harijans— in their colony. The Community
Hall was specially built for the use of these Harijans. Most of these
Harijans were illiterate, but they were religious-minded and met in the
community hall for prayers frequently. They observed such popular
religions festivals as Rama Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi in the community
hall. When we decided to run the literacy class for these, we enrolled
twenty adults. Financial assistance for the purchase of an epidiascope
was given by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi. The hall was
fitted with electric lights so that the epidiascope could be used.
The programme of the Literacy Class was divided into three
phases:
A.
FIRST PHASE
The first phase was READING. We did not start with writing
as is the practice in the literacy classes sponsored by the Education
Department.
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Vitohba
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A deity much respected and worshipped in Maharashtra and lakhs
of devotees attend his fairs at Pandharpur, where the temple
of Vithoba is located.
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Harijan
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The name given b y Mahatma Gandhi to the untouchables.
is now commonly used for these people.
The word
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Writing
letters one by one becomes boring and many of *
the adults hate the drudgery involved. But reading can be
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made pleasant with suitable materials. At the reading stage J
from the beginning we emphasised on silent reading. In the
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first phase the adults learnt all the characters. But a
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novel method was adopted for learning the letters.
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The class met thrice a week, Monday, Thursday and
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Saturday. The class was the concluding part of the Bhajans— J
held on these days. The learners continued for an hour
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after the Bhajans in the hall and took part in the class.
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Slips showing the names of adults in bold characters were
prepared and then projected on a screen with the epidiascope.
Some of the common names were Babu, Ganu, Maruti, Hari, Balu etc.
When the slip was projected, the name was read out and the
learner whose name was projected came forward. Thus for each
sitting three or four names were drilled in. Subsequent to the
epidiascope show, the names were presented on a Black-Board and
read by all the learners.
The third part of the lesson was the distribution of the slips
to be read by the learners as a part of individual study. Every
time before new names were taught, the old names were drilled.
This work continued for a month when the learners could read their
own names as well as the names of all who formed the class. As a
practical exercise, the class was asked to recognize any name that
was shown on the screen.
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The learners took personal interest in reading their own $
names and those of others who attended class.
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Gradually the sphere of reading was extended to the names of
the family members and later to their belongings such as their house,
garden, bullocks, cattle, farm, implements as the plough, sickle,
axe etc.
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Bhajan
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Prayers sung in a musical tone in chorus.
the song and others repeat.
One teaches
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A count of the reading vocabulary acquired by the
learners was kept to show how it increased, after each
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lesson.
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Small sentences were also included in the matter presented
for reading, such as 'This is my house, 1 ; 'This is my garden."
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After a month's time, the learners were able to read
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a fairly large number of words such as their own names,
those of their family members and friends and names of
their belongings.
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Our method of reading exploited the interest of the *
adults in their personal matters. The class learnt words,%
rather than letters.
In most literacy classes, the
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practice is to teach individual letters of the alphabet
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for quite a long time before words are presented for
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reading. We further emphasised silent reading of the
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matter shown on the screen and on the blackboard. The
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interest of the learners was sustained throughout and
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and there were few drop-outs. Those who could not come
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to the class on a particular day, could pick up the
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reading matter when the matter was read in chorus by
all the members of the class. Gradually they acquired
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the ability to recognise the individual letters of the
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alphabet in the words and could distinguish their
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inflections. They could read also joint letters as the J
names of some learners contained joint letters.
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Occasionally, the analysis of words was also taken to
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enable the class recognize individual letters.
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SECOND PHASE
After the learners got proficiency in recognising their names
and other simple words, we started the second phase. This phase
was devoted to INDIVIDUAL SELF-STUDY.
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A series of lessons on the life of Rama— who is held in
great reverence by the Harijans, was prepared. These lessons used
simple language and the reading vocabulary was drawn from the words
learnt by the learners. However, each lesson contained a few new
words for reading. They were underlined in red. The lessons were
written on thick sheets of drawing paper so that they could stand
rough use. Each lesson was written on a single sheet and all the
lessons were numbered. In all there were twenty lessons in the
series.
Each learner was given a study record card in which he had to
note the number of the lesson begun and the date of beginning.
These cards were given to them for self-study. They were read out
first to the class and later as and when the learners required
help from the Adult Education Worker. The learners were required
to study these cards individually during the class hours.
Fortunately it was possible to obtain a set of slides on
Shree Rama's life. These slides were in colour and of the size of
80mm x 80mm. These slides were shown to the whole colony before
reading lessons started.
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The progress of reading the cards was slow. But the main
point was that it was individual work. There was no classroom teaching. The learner was guided if he had any difficulties in reading. The learners, however, sat in groups
for individual work and those who had earlier completed the
card helped those who had taken up a new card. In this way
the reading work progressed. The class-work attained
considerable momentum and the learners were proud in
declaring how many lessons they had completed. Sometimes
they gave demonstration of their newly acquired reading
ability to the whole group. But throughout silent reading
was emphasised as part of the study. Periodical testing of
the adults in the skills they had acquired in reading was
organised.
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While the first phase for recognising the alphabet lasted one
month, the second phase of practice in reading of cards took
about three months. At the end of the second phase the adults
were able to read the cards very well and had also acquired a
taste for reading general books of the same level of language
difficulty as the cards.
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Rama
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The name of a great hero in ancient Indian history, now
regarded as a deity.
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C.
THIRD PHASE
The third phase consisted of PRACTICE IN GENERAL READING.
For this purpose a set of thirty easy books dealing with the lives
of saints as Tukaram, Ramdas, Namdev, etc. were collected and
placed in a cupboard in the community hall.
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The learners were told to read any book they wanted *
from this stock when they met i>i the evenings in the hall.%
This set of books formed the nucleus for a library for
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the adult education class. It was noticed that the
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learners used these books for developing their literacy *
skills. They completed reading these books in two
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months. The class ended with the phase.
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The entire
the first phase
second phase of
the third phase
programme ran in all for six months: one month for
of studying the alphabets, three months for the
studying the 20 reading cards and two months for
of reading general books in the class library.
The Social Education Committee of the Bombay Govt. had
organised literacy writers' workshops in which a number of books
were written by competent authors. They were arranged in three
grades, as I, II & III. These books as well as other similar
books written for adults were stocked in the library.
IV.
FOLLOW-UP AND DIFFUSION
The programme was subsequently taken up by the Social Education
Organizers who came for training at Gargoti and they continued the work
on the same pattern, using the same materials and equipment and adopting
the same three-phase method. As a result, all the illiterate men in
the Harijan colony have now become literate and some women also.
V.
CONCLUSION
The experiment as run by us used some basic principles of adult
literacy classes. These may be summarized as follows:i.
ii.
If the class is to be made interesting and attractive to the
adult learners, reading should be taught first.
Reading should be introduced through the word method. The words
should be shown to adults and drilled in so that a reading
vocabulary is progressively acquired.
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iii.
iv.
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Words taught should be selected from the environment
familiar to the adult learners. Gradually, they may be
built up into small sentences.
Visual methods should be used in teaching words, as it implies
associating the written symbol with the spoken word and the
spoken word with the object. Gradually the written symbol
becomes fixed with the object.
Silent reading of words and sentences should be practiced
from the beginning.
Reading practice should be continued through reading cards
in which the reading vocabulary of the adults will be gradually
enlarged. Cards should be used for silent self-study so that
the adult learner can progress at his own rate. A record of
the cards read should be maintained so that the learner can
judge his own progress, vis-a-vis, those of others*.
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When the learner has gone through the second stage of reading
cards, he should be introduced to simple general books from
the class library and encouraged to read these books during
class and even at home if required.
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The success which the programme achieved in the brief J
period of six months and the ease with which the Social J
Education Organizers under training used the methods for *
making all men and some women of the colony literate
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underscore the efficacy of our three-phase method.
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