India’s illiterate population is the largest in the world at 37% of the global total, according to UNESCO. Female literacy, specifically, is less than 50%. As dire as these statistics are, the numbers may also be padded to reflect a higher number of literate Indians, as children who are enrolled in school are often counted as literate, even if, in reality they, cannot properly read or write. Several reports prove the problem of illiteracy is pervasive, with a recent analysis by GMR placing India among the 21 countries with an extensive learning crisis.
THE CRISIS FIRSTHAND
Sunitha is thirteen years old. When drought damaged her family’s crops two years ago, her father took a four-month loan from a money lender. The rate of interest was 30% for three months. Unable to pay back the loan, Sunitha’s father had to escape with his family.
Today, standing by one of the stop lights in Delhi, Sunitha rushes from one car to another, hoping for someone to buy one of her towels or umbrellas. She struggles to walk properly, and her hair is a listless, red color–a clear sign of malnutrition. Nearby, her mother is cooking meal on the pavement, using dried wood and cow dung. They even sleep here at night. “We are fortunate if we can afford one meal a day,” she said. Today is one such “lucky” day for them. Lunch will be wheat rotis with red chili pepper to suppress hunger.
Studies have shown that illiteracy leads to poverty, bonded slavery, child marriage, underpayment for goods and services,
low esteem, economic bondage, and intergenerational illiteracy. Empowering adults to become literate and encouraging them to let their children receive education is a critical step towards empowering hundreds of millions of oppressed people in India.
HEALING THE BROKEN WORLD
Compelled exists to take the truth of the Gospel to the unreached and to love our disempowered neighbors in the most difficult places of South Asia. To this end, Compelled operates several literacy centers in various parts of South Asia. Trained literacy workers, with the permission of the village head or tribal chief, host evening literacy classes for the villagers. Each literacy center usually teaches anywhere from 20-75 adults. Over a period of 18-24 months, these adults will be able to read, write, and do basic math. As minds open up to new ideas and possibilities, these villagers work with our missionaries to educate their children. S*, a Compelled senior leader commented, “Through education, it is possible to break the intergenerational oppressiveness within [just a] few years. We work hard to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and oppressiveness through literary work.”
Mihir, who is from the K* tribe, said, “Now that I am able to read and count money, I can sell my produce directly in the nearby town. I earn a fair price.” Others echoed Mihir’s statement, adding their commitment to ensure their children pursue education and viable economic pursuits.
Pastor K*, who oversees the literacy work explained, “At the end of every class, the literacy worker will offer to pray. Over time, it is inevitable that the villagers hear the Gospel in a clear way. The healing of the mind along with the healing of the soul is a powerful combination to heal this broken world, here and into eternity!”
Sundar belongs to a tribe based in the mountains of central India. When Compelled started hosting evening literacy class in his village, Sundar was very excited. He eagerly learned to read and write, eventually moving on to develop basic math skills. Within two years, he transformed from a shy young boy to a confident young man.
And an even greater change was happening within him. At the end of each literacy class, when he heard the words “Almighty God” prayed, it always gave him a peace he could not define in words. Sundar, along with a group of young men, started to ask more questions and understand the truth of the Gospel. Soon, he gave his life to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, Sundar earns a good wage from the sale of his produce in the market. He has a solid house, with a tin roof–the first in his village. His confidence has allowed him to interact freely with the people of the town. Not long ago, he decided to run in a local election for a position that influences several villages and won! In light of all of his accomplishments, Sundar said his greatest joy is simply being able to read the Word of God.
PROVIDING LITERACY KITS
We urgently need at least 225 literacy kits. Each literacy kit will contain a solar light, a mat for people to sit, blackboard, set of slates and chalk and a signboard that advertises about the literacy class. It costs US $ 55 for one literacy kit.
We request you to please consider helping provide one literacy worker with a kit, to enable him to take the light of the Gospel and the light of literacy to the most oppressed in South Asia. To donate, click here.