College girls spur literacy drive in Uttar Pradesh villages

Lucknow, Feb 17 (IANS) Over 1,500 girls from a private college here have been busy shaping up the careers of illiterate and unemployed villagers in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Students of the Sardar Patel Mahila Mahavidyalaya (SPMM) in Barabanki district, some 35 km from Lucknow, hold literacy camps in villages, offer career guidance to youth, run programmes to generate self-employment for poor women and undertake a number of other social initiatives to elevate the living standards of the rural populace.

Recently, the joy of the students of SPMM knew no bounds when they learnt that Kurauli – one of the villages where they run their social programmes – had attained nearly 100 percent literacy.

‘It was quite encouraging for us…It was a sense of pride for us when in a survey conducted by our college we came to know that the Kurauli village had attained nearly 100 percent literacy,’ Anuradha Verma, a student who leads one of the student units involved in carrying out social programmes, told IANS.

‘Be it those living in pucca houses or huts, labourers, farmers and even those involved in menial jobs in the village are now literate. What’s really encouraging for us is the fact that Kurauli village, which has nearly 100 percent literacy, is in the (Barabanki) district that has a literacy rate of about 47.4 percent,’ she added.

Participating in the social initiatives has virtually become a course curriculum for the students of SPMM. For the last seven years, the college’s principal, Vimla Singh, has been heading the social programmes.

Now, the social programmes are being run in as many as half a dozen villages of Barabanki that include Satrikh, Safdarganj, Pyarepur and Khurmabad.

‘Initially, I along with some of my colleagues had started holding literacy camps in some of the villages of Barabanki. Later, when my students came to know about this, they also expressed their desire to help us. Gradually, what I had started with a handful of colleagues, is now supported by over 1,500 students of our college,’ Vimla Singh told IANS.

Besides holding the usual literacy camps, students of SPMM College regularly update educated youth about upcoming competitive exams and admissions to polytechnics and other Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).

Students of SPMM College also train women in art and craft, toy making, cloth printing, wall-hanging making and other techniques aimed to make them self-reliant.

‘They (students) not only help us become literate…They assist us in diversifying our income. With the training imparted by the students, I make toys and generate anything between Rs.1,000 and Rs.2,000 on a monthly basis,’ said Ramwati Devi, a resident of Kurauli.

Mati Devi, a resident of Satrikh village, said: ‘Initially, we had inhibitions and did not talk to the college students. But gradually we realised the students were in the village to help us.

‘We started interacting with them. Later, we started participating in literacy camps…They (students) make us learn several things through which we can raise our living standards.’

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at asit.s@ians.in)

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