First assignment of group n° 049


Resources used by the team

Roué Julie

Book : Inde, la revolution par les femmes - Dominique Hoeltgen


Caron Baker

Book : Women, Literacy, and Development: Alternative Perspectives - Anna Robinson-Pant


Anwen Li

Book : Indian control of Indian éducation - National Indian Brotherhood, Assembly of First Nations


Diane Raveloson

Book : Alphabétisation et autonomisation des femmes, histoires réussies et inspirantes - Unesco


Julien Scherding

Book : Education, Equality and Development: Persistent Paradoxes in Indian Women's History - Vina Mazumdar


Wei-Yi Chen

Book : India: A Wounded Civilization - V. S. Naipaul


Haixiang Chen

Book : Dalit Women's Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination - Shailaja Paik


First description of our project

But first, let her read!

1. What problem do you want to solve ?

Education is what builds your future. It is the highway to opportunities in terms of professional life but it is also the main way to socialize by learning how to live with your peers.

Ability to read is part of the education basics. It makes you able to understand your environment. It is paramount in your daily live: taking decisions, voting, reading newspapers, finding your way in the street, shopping, communicating… Every act needs at least to know how to decipher words.

496 millions of women are illiterate all around the world. Among them, more than one-third are Indians. It means that 68% illiterate adults in India are women.

Why does this issue affect more women than men? In India, families often prefer to offer education to their boys, while little girls are intended to become housekeepers.

We wanted to work on illiteracy and by studying we found out that India is the country which hosts the biggest number of illiterate adults. Among them, women are particularly affected.

This is where we noticed that women illiteracy was a recurring problem in rural India. For many reasons girls don’t have access to education in remote villages, that is why your challenge is to improve the access to education for women in remote Indian villages so they can learn how to read.

2. Why does this problem exist?

Why are remote villages particularly affected by women illiteracy?

Nowadays Indian society is still very conservative and patriarchal, and the status of women in India is not equivalent to men’s. Many families, and especially in low castes, consider that it’s useless to enroll girls in schools because they are meant to be married, and not to study. But this mentality problem is not the only factor that encourages women illiteracy.

Living in a remote village in India seems to be a main factor of women illiteracy. These areas accumulate many barriers to girls’ education as poverty, discrimination, bad school infrastructures, lack of teachers, etc. But the main problem is that every village is not provided with school so children have to go to another village to get educated. In this case, parents are even more reluctant to send their girls to school because they fear harassment.

The key word is accessibility, a poor girl living in a small village is probably illiterate either because there is no existing infrastructure or she is not allowed to go to school. In both situations we have to find a solution to bring education to these girls.

Because of discrimination, lack of resources and isolation, education of girls in remote areas is far from being a priority in India, and literacy may not be taken as granted.

We need to break the vicious circle of illiteracy that keeps going on in remote Indian areas by giving girls opportunity to get educated.

3. What breakthrough are you committed to creating?

Literacy is emancipation. For women, the ability to read means:

• To be independent, because they don’t have to count on men for everything. And women independence is the key of sex equality.

• To be educated: literacy is the base of education. When a women learn how to read, she has access to books, internet, newspapers… And she can learn even more.

• To understand. Ability to read is not only a way to communicate, it gives you the access to a huge amount of information. It permits women to face and understand their barriers.

In fact, literacy permits women to choose. They gain control not only over simple routine but over their lives. They become active: they can involve in political, economic and social activities.

To some extent if we find a way to teach illiterate Indian women how to read, we find a way to free them.

Potential experts already identified

Robert Deliège - anthropologist, India specialist

Martine Van Woerkens - Author

Non-profit organizations (Sambhali for example)

Homepage of the course