Amina’s Path to Literacy

Published: Feb 26, 2024 Reading time: 3 minutes
Amina’s Path to Literacy
© Photo: Onion Films for People in Need

“My name is Amina Khatun,” she introduced herself with a smile. She shares how she got engaged at a young age and is now a mother of four—two sons and two daughters—living in Rautahat. She pauses for a second, then laughs and explains how she did not even know what getting engaged meant back then. She expresses the pain of being unable to study during her childhood, adding, “I eventually got married many years after the engagement. I was 20 at the time.”

In her village, she recognises the vital role the Unique Learning Center, a Community Learning Center (CLC), played in enabling her to read, sign her name, and do simple mathematics. The learning centre was established thanks to the Aarambha project led by People in Need in partnership with Aasaman Nepal and the Social Organization District Coordination Committee (SODCC), with UK Aid's support.

“It was after getting the opportunity to enroll my children in this learning centre that I also learned to read and write,” she shared. She also noted that the Muslim community did not take children’s educational needs seriously before the opening of this learning centre. She elaborated that even when a family's financial situation was moderate enough to educate the children, there weren’t good schools in the neighbourhood. For a decent education, parents had to send their children to Madarasa, but then regular teacher attendance was an issue.

Amina is also the chairperson of the CLC management committee for this learning centre. The committee consists of nine members, whose meetings primarily revolve around in-depth discussions on issues such as cleanliness, increasing access to education, and ensuring the security of every person and household in the community. The committee members are either parents of students at the learning centre or other female volunteers. Furthermore, there is a facilitator who facilitates the committee’s activities.

Amina proudly shares the positive impact of the Unique Learning Center on her daughters, emphasising their improved writing, reading, and comprehension skills. With newfound literacy, she has transformed her life, enabling her to sign her name instead of using fingerprints on official documents. She explains, “When my daughters joined this learning centre, I came to study with them. I listened attentively to what they read. My daughters also helped me study. In fact, for poor people and a poor community like ours, this is a story of inspiration.” After learning to read and write, she opened a shop and now keeps all the accounts, telling us, “I can charge customers for goods in my shop and return the change easily. This is a big success in my life.”

Amina shared that she would let the younger of the two daughters get as much education as she wanted to without any interference and would not hasten her marriage. The other daughter is nineteen years old and already engaged, which is why, in her case, she promised to encourage her to learn some livelihood skills.

“I started studying at an old age; I am 40 now. I would still enroll in adult education if the programme came to our village. I understand that educated women are more independent. They manage their household affairs well and are respected in their villages.”

“My husband works as a tailor and has not acquired a basic education. But he can do the basic calculations required in his business. He is delighted to see that I can read. Sometimes, he says that if this programme had not come to the village, perhaps I would have remained illiterate for life. This learning centre has benefited many girls in our village. Mine is one of the families that has benefited the most. We are lucky and thankful that we became literate in this life.”

Autor: Onion Films for People in Need

Related articles