Lack of trained teachers and poor educational infrastructure

The size of illiterate population in India currently stands at an alarming figure of 3,115 lacs, according to the recent government census 2011 data. Status of primary education in rural India is even grimmer, further increasing the number of illiterate population.
Going by the Annual Status of Education Report 2011, even a very high enrollment rate of 96.7% in rural India has not translated into primary education skills among these children:

  • More than half of the students enrolled in standard 5th cannot read standard 2nd text
  • More than one-third of the students enrolled in standard 8th cannot do a division
  • More than two-third of the students enrolled in standard 5th cannot do a division

From the same report, more than half of the schools failed to comply with the mandated pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), which we believe is one of the major cause of poor status of primary education. The problem is only augmented by inadequate training and qualification of the existing teachers, poor schooling facilities and no support at home from illiterate parents.

Guruji bridges the gap to achieve total literacy

  • Enables less trained teachers
  • Guruji is not a computer. Extremely easy to operate using a TV-remote like device. Anyone with just elementary education can run a class with Guruji.

  • Needs minimum schooling infrastructure
  • Suitable for rural environment. Doesn’t need continuous internet or even electricity supply. Once charged runs on inbuilt battery for 20 hours. Battery chargeable using solar panel.

  • Flexible, effective teaching format
  • External speaker can be connected for a large audience and inputs can be given via an electronic keyboard

Literacy Device - Guruji with remote and charger
  • Effective in achieving adult literacy
  • Adult illiteracy has direct impact on various social problems like child labour, female infanticide, witchcraft etc. Guruji achieves adult literacy in easy and efficient manner by a very directed content focused on literacy. Literate parents can also support their children at home by connecting with the teaching in the school.

Inspiration behind Guruji

What follows is an anecdote of a personal experience from the man behind Guruji:

On a short visit to Mumbai, I had dropped in at my sister Vijaya’s place.

Vijaya was not in yet, but I was expected. Her maid Laxmi brought in the tea. Tagging along, holding her pallu was her daughter who was wearing some kind of school uniform.

“What’s your name?” I tried to make a conversation with the kid.

After much cajoling from her mother, she muttered, “Radha”.

“Which school do you go to?”

She didn’t answer, but her mother did. And what I learnt from her in next fifteen minutes was a revelation of the struggle that children of illiterate parents go through leading to their dropping out from school in many cases.

In brief, Laxmi works as a maid in several houses. Her husband works as an unskilled worker in a factory. Both are illiterate. Radha goes to a nearby municipal school. Every morning, cajoling Radha to go to school is a struggle for the parents.

Radha hates to go to school. The reason – she could never connect with what goes on in the class. And the much harassed teacher of her class managing 50+ children is in no position to give her the needed individual attention in the initial phase.

Laxmi and Pooran understand their daughter’s plight but being illiterate themselves, are in no position to help. However, they are determined to get their daughter educated. Cutting their already bare needs, they have even arranged a group tuition for Radha in the evening.

If Radha’s parents persist, Radha will eventually get connected with the class and move on. However, a large percentage of students in such situation simply drop out and remain illiterate for life. It’s the plight of Radha and other such children of illiterate parents all across the country that motivated us to develop Guruji

Now not only Radha, but Laxmi and Pooran can attend a 30 minute session with Guruji in the evening and acquire the elementary education in a reasonable period.

- Jugal Gupta