Established in 1983, Development Alternatives innovates and delivers eco-solutions to reduce poverty and regenerate the environment.
About Your Organization
Society for Development Alternatives
India, DL, Delhi
Country where this project is creating social impact
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
1. India NGO Award 2010 – as the best NGO in the regional category (northern zone)
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Name Your Entry
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Scaling (the next step will be growing impact on a regional or even global scale)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Despite several decades of programs to introduce literacy among adults, more than 50% of the women and girls in many poor countries, including India, cannot read, write or count, preventing them from participating fully in the social, economic and political processes of the modern State.
Numerous studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between economic, social and political development and the level of literacy of the population. Developing nations with high illiteracy among women also have high rates of female foeticide, infant mortality, maternal mortality, etc. Without basic literacy and numeracy skills they cannot get jobs or income, can get exploited by businesses and moneylenders, and cannot fully appreciate the value of educating their children.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
TARA Akshar+ provides the solution to the above need by enabling women and girls to become functionally literate in a very short period and in a manner that they retain the skills learned permanently. Aimed at the literacy of Hindi speaking adult women and girls in rural India, the programme has met all the challenges in this domain successfully and proved the effectiveness of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools in the development sector. Indeed, it has opened up possibilities for other types of courses delivered in a similar manner.
This strategy or the programme is a breakthrough because of its ability to provide the biggest challenge of eradicating poverty and building communities. Bringing modern technology, such as the laptop, into the village has a huge impact of familiarizing remote economies with the opportunities such technologies can bring.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
The implementation is done through a robust three-tier quality control system that includes:
• A Delhi-based core team that will administer the whole process.
• Below will be district-level Master trainers and Monitoring Coordinators who in turn will supervise the teaching personnel below them.
• At the base level are instructors who will be responsible for teaching the learners. There will be one instructor per centre.
The program cycle will be implemented as per the following schedule:
a. Identification of Target Clusters
b. Identification of Centers' Locations
c. Identification of Local Trainers
d. Training of Local Trainers
e. Mobilization of Communities
f. Readiness of Individual Centers
g. Training of Women on TARA Akshar+
h. Documentation and Reporting
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
There are several initiatives by governmental and non-governmental agencies to address the critical need of literacy. None has shown the success, mainly because of its radical difference from all these initiatives in the methodology used and the delivery mechanism.
TARA Akshar+ has more potential in making an impact than other initiatives mainly because it uses:
1. Highly innovative teaching mechanisms.
2. A complete package from teaching to testing, including strict quality control.
3. Entertaining and best use of the learner's time and attention.
4. Use of modern information technology has enabled to reach remotest locations.
5. Delivery times and locations to suit the clients.
6. Learners get individual attention due to small batch-size.
The other initiatives all above points
This Entry is about (Issues)
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)
Access to education/training.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
In the five years since the initiation of TARA Akshar+ it has trained more than 61,000 women to read, write and make simple calculations across 8 of the most illiterate states in India. A remarkable feature of this programme is its extraordinary pass rate: more than 95% and drop-out from programme has been less than 1%. This is due to highly effective and standardized teaching methods using computers and entertaining heuristics, a solid delivery system, extremely short duration of courses, and convenience of location, timings, etc.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
In the next three years, it is expected that the programme will be implemented in all the Northern states of India, which account for more than 60% of the country's illiterate women under National Literacy Mission, as it has been approved by NLM. It is estimated that by the use of this programme in coming 1 to 3 years more than one million women and girls will be made literate.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
The obstacles that might hinder the initiative from success and plans to overcome this are listed below:
• Cost of tailoring TARA Akshar+ to local dialects
• Resistance to change among vested interests in community
• Feudal System/Gender Bias
• Competition from employment/income opportunities during course
• Lack of Support from Local Administration
• Lag time for training of specialized trainers/experts
Plan to overcome:
• Defined processes for continuous cost-cutting innovations in place
• Shift to alternate low cost technologies
• Strategy in place for regular sensitization and mobilization of community
• Extension of geographic footprint of the program
• Tie-ups with other organizations with relevant programs/products
• Creation of a pool of experts
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Major roll-out under National Literacy Mission
Tie-ups with corporates to work under there CSR
Tie ups with foundations and UN agencies for large scale roll-outs
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Roll-out under National Literacy Mission
Minimum five corporate tie-ups
Minimum 3 foundations and UN agencies tie-ups
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
Development Alternatives’ job is to develop new ideas, new concepts, new ways of solving problems, and the second is to work in the field as kind of a community based organization to do the things that give us information about how people really live, what they need and so on. One of our colleagues, an Englishman, Victor Lyons, who is a bit of a genius, bit of a maverick, who invented this magical formula for teaching people to read and write in a very short time and with permanent results. He has been associated with any research on adult education. He found out that the major problem lies in the delivery mode, time span and all programmes not being applying the participative approach. He came with idea of that make anyone literate in a short span of time with permanent results.
Tell us about your partnerships
In the last four and half years of its implementation the programme has been supported by various agencies which include:
1. Department for International Development, Govt. of UK
2. Directorate of Adult Education, Govt. of India
3. Ministry of Tribal Affairs
4. Suzlon Foundation
7. Oxfam International
8. NOIDA Power Company Ltd.
9. Read India
10. Sewa Mandir
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list