Each One Teach One

I recently read this article on The Better India where a young domestic helper, Kani, gets daily lessons from her employer in Chennai. Once all the housework is done for the day, Kani puts in a few hours to learn English and Math. In the span of a few short months, Kani can now read, write and perform basic arithmetic. Her once hostile husband now respects her ability instead of mocking it, and she has also encouraged her friends to ask their employers for lessons.

This story was immensely inspiring to me. The non-monetary perks that are doled out to domestic helpers in India are usually in the form of access to the TV to watch serials, old clothes/ electronics/ books etc., or in the form of food. Giving out free education to the helper is such a fantastic idea and needs to become the norm. This is a great initiative on so many levels, because:

· The women develop confidence in themselves that they are literate members of society,

· They are able to manage their household finances better,

· They are able to help their kids with their studies and inspire them to do better,

And most importantly:

· They can find better jobs for themselves.

Young moms like Kani were not given the opportunity to study when they were kids and have thus been relegated to being domestic helpers for life. They deserve a second chance to study. There are many NGOs that focus on educating children, but I couldn’t find any in India that helped women with education specifically. It feels like people have forgotten that adults can (and should!) study even though they aren’t in school.

Here is an idea to operationalise this concept of educating domestic helpers.

· Create a network of people who are willing to invest the time and effort into teaching their helpers

· Develop simple curricula and distribute learning materials online to the network so that any educated adult can teach someone English and Math from scratch.

· Link this network of women with organisations who need people for clerical day jobs (think: supermarkets, factories, fast food chains, etc.)

· Link this to the multitude of programs available at NGOs that provide education / related services to children. Perhaps moms learning along with their kids could be a great motivation for both to study?

What do you think? How can we encourage women to continue learning even when they aren’t in school?

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