Education – Empowering rural and farming communities?

By Dhanalakshmi Ramachandra

Education is the foundation for cognitive and social development. We at Monsanto, believe in the power of education and how it helps build the future generation. We focus on elementary and primary education, improving educational infrastructure and capacity building of teachers.

On this International Literacy Day, I would like to share my experience on how India’s farming and rural communities view education and the role they believe it plays in their lives.

The Journey from Literacy to Education

As part of our literacy and educational interventions, I have been part of diverse initiatives and activities at Monsanto. Recently, with our CSR partner Deshkal Society, I visited a few schools in Bihar, where a project on enhancing learning outcomes of children is ongoing. I had the opportunity to interact with teachers, students, and parents mainly from the farming community. I realized that most of the children were first generation learners from farming families with a thirst for learning something new each day. The energy, enthusiasm, and engagement of the children learning via pictures, activities or poetry spoke volumes.

One girl student I spoke to at length, said that she aspires to become a doctor. Her focus, commitment, and optimism was extremely inspiring. Being first-generation learners, these children have become mentors to their parents. With huge strides in technology development and digital farming taking over, our farmers cannot be left far behind. The education and exposure that the children are receiving is helping them converse with their farmer parents about the benefits of modern agricultural practices and how it can be adopted to improve their lives.

There was an aura of satisfaction when I spoke to a few mothers. I asked them if they would educate their daughters as well to which one mother swiftly answered “Girls are no less than boys these days. I have a daughter and I send her to school”. I thought to myself – We are on the right track and progressing.

From a mere need to identify the letters and numbers, the need for education has come a long way. It is no more about eradication of illiteracy for the farmer- parents of these children. They have begun to see the value that education can bring and believe that education is the means to development and prosperity. They hope to see their children grow up with good education and take up responsible jobs.

Education at the grassroots is indispensable for the development of a country. Recognizing the need for education, we at Monsanto along with Deshkal Society support over 48,000 children across 165 schools in Bihar giving India’s next generation an exposure to the world. Our partnership with Deshkal has created a congenial learning environment for children from the most marginalized communities. By providing education and quality reading material, students are encouraged to read and interact. They learn and grow together, build their language skills and competencies.

Borrow a book and learn

Apart from our partnership with Deshkal Society, we are working with “Room to Read” to promote the habit of reading and improving the literacy quotient amongst children. We have established 11 libraries with a total of 19,500 books benefitting over 4,200 students. “Room to Read” has helped create a child-friendly learning environment with quality reading materials where students have an opportunity to read books on varied topics, build their language skills and develop creative ideas. To create an effective teaching environment, we conduct workshops for teachers and build their professional capacity and training ability. As the saying goes – A thousand days of diligent study is equal to one day with a great teacher.

And miles to go before we sleep

Education is a continuous process and develops the overall personality allowing social and cultural development. Education provides us the knowledge and helps transform lives for the better. On this International Literacy Day, we celebrate the progress and efforts made to improve literacy levels across all countries. Let’s make a promise to nurture education with innovative solutions.

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