The Total Literacy Campaigns (TLC) model is now accepted as the dominant strategy for eradication of adult illiteracy in India. These campaigns are area-specific,
time-bound, volunteer-based, cost-effective and outcome-oriented. The thrust is on attainment of functional literacy through prescribed
norms of literacy and numeracy. The learner is the focal point in the entire process and measurement of learning outcome is continuous, informal, participative and non-threatening.
The campaign is implemented in stages, which may be overlapping at times. These should be understood clearly and followed meticulously.
Preparing the Ground - The initiation of a total literacy
campaign begins with a process of consultation and consensus, involving political parties, teachers, students and cultural groups. A core team is identified and the project is formulated.
Creation of the Organisational Structure - The campaigns are implemented through district-level literacy committees which are registered under the Societies Registration Act as independent and autonomous bodies to provide a unified umbrella under which a number of individuals and organisations work together. Leadership is provided by the district collector/chief secretary and the zila parishad (district council). All sections of society are given due representation
in planning and implementation of the programme. The structure rests on three pillars - participatory people's committees, full-time functionaries and area coordinators, and a support system provided by government officials. It forms an interactive and a communicative process of management and implementation. The campaign is delivered through volunteers without any expectation of reward or incentive.
Survey and District Profile - A detailed survey is conducted in the district, to enumerate and identify the non-literate people. The process of the survey also provides opportunities for person contact and interaction. During the survey, volunteer teachers and master trainers are also identified.
Environment Building - This is an extremely important part of the total literacy campaigns, where mass mobilisation takes place through a multifaceted communication strategy, which creates the right environment and enthusiasm for teaching-learning activities. The success of a total literacy
campaign depends to a large extent, on the effectiveness with which all sections of society are mobilised.
The basic objective of the environment building stage is to generate a demand for literacy. Its momentum has to be sustained - it must not merely precede the campaign, but pervade it throughout. Environment building includes:
Mobilising public opinion
Creating community participation
Sensitising educated sections of the community and recruiting them as volunteers
Mobilising and motivating non-literate people to become literate
Several media are utilised for environment building. Effective results have been obtained by using folk art forms, jathas, street plays, nukkad nataks, bhajans and kirtans as also padyatras, literacy walls, etc.
Kamarajar district in Tamil Nadu launched its total literacy campaigns on the 50th anniversary of the Quit India Movement and called it 'Quit Illiteracy Movement'. More than 1,000 performances of jathas were held. An effigy of the demon of illiteracy was burnt. Buffaloes and elephants were painted with literacy slogans and taken around on the streets, to create an interest in literacy. Letters and words were hung from trees; there were wall writings in many places. There was a monthly radio programme on literacy as well as a monthly newsletter. Amongst the learners were rickshaw-pullers, Muslim women and members of the nomadic gypsy tribe. Building on this, six campaigns were integrated in the post literacy stage - health, legal literacy, freedom struggle, disaster management, small savings and water management in agriculture. Also, libraries were opened in each village.
Development of Teaching-Learning Materials - The objective is to make the materials relevant, while keeping the larger national canvas and its concerns in view. The materials are based on an innovative pedagogy called Improved Pace and Content of Learning (IPCL) that incorporates motivation-oriented teaching-learning material books especially suited for neo-literates and adults have been prepared. A 3-grade primer is used with each grade corresponding to a different level of literacy. The primer contains exercises, tests and space for practice to achieve the objective of imparting literacy in 200 hours.
Training of the Task Force - Training is conducted through key resource persons and master trainers - one master trainer for every 25 to 30 volunteer teachers, and one key resource person for every 25-30 master trainers. First the key resource persons are trained, who in turn train the master trainers. Volunteer teachers are then trained by the master trainers in batches.
Actual Learning Process - There are three progressive sets of primers. Each primer is an integrated one, in the sense that it combines workbook, exercise book, tools of evaluation of learning outcome, certification etc. The entire process is based on the principle of self-evaluation. The tests are simple and participative. Every learner is free to attain the desired level according to his/her convenience. It is, however, expected that a learner should be able to complete all the three primers within the overall duration of 200 hours spread over six to eight months.
Monitoring and Evaluation - Monitoring and supervision of total literacy campaigns is done through a periodic system of reporting, and visits of the officials of the National Literacy Mission, State Directorates of Adult/Mass
Education and the State Resource Centres. The management information system in a campaign is based on the twin principles of participation and correction. It has to be accountable, credible and instead of being enrolment-oriented, it has to be outcome-oriented.
Though the total literacy campaign is meant to impart functional literacy, it also disseminates a 'basket' of other socially relevant messages, such as enrolment and retention of children in schools; immunisation; propagation of small family norms; promotion of maternity and childcare; women's equality; and empowerment, peace and communal harmony.
The achievement of total literacy campaigns has been slower in the Hindi speaking states of Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The conditions are different and demand innovative approaches.
However, despite the slow take-off, the essence and the spirit of the campaign remain the same.