On this day, two years ago, TCF’s adult literacy programme, Aagahi, was awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy. It was an important acknowledgement of our efforts to help the women of Pakistan read and write.
To shine a light on how Aagahi is empowering our women and changing lives, we would like to share with you the story of Gulshan – one of our 93,000 learners, who has reaffirmed our belief in the power of literacy.
“As a little girl, I used to stare at the newspaper photos – curious about the letters and symbols written underneath them, wondering what they said. Then, I would eagerly wait for my brothers to return from school so they could read and explain it to me. One day, even my brother said to me: had you known how to read yourself, you wouldn’t be so dependent on others,” recalls twenty-five-year-old Gulshan, a resident of a small village in Kasur, Punjab.
Years later when Gulshan was married and had children, she visited a TCF school nearby her home for their admission. There she caught a glimpse of women – just like her – with books and pencils, reading something aloud. Gulshan was struck by their confidence.
When the principal at the school encouraged Gulshan to join Aagahi, she jumped at the opportunity. “My in-laws weren’t convinced; they couldn’t understand the need for me to learn at this age. But my husband was supportive,” she tells. After 3 months as an Aagahi Learner, Gulshan was able to read and write. Today, she actively follows her children’s progress at school.
“I can’t believe I have spent so much of my life in ignorance. I feel so happy that today when I pick up the newspaper I can actually read and understand it, instead of just staring at the pictures!” she exclaims.