The computer-based functional literacy (CBFL) programme uses animated graphics and a voiceover to explain how individual alphabets combine to give structure and meaning to various words.

Designed from education material developed by the National Literacy Mission, the CBFL method employs puppets as the motif in the teaching process. The lessons, tailored to fit different languages and even dialects, focus on reading, and are based on the theories of cognition, language and communication.

With the emphasis on learning words rather than alphabets, the project addresses thought processes with the objective of teaching these words in as short a time span as possible.

The learning show
The settings for the lessons are visually stimulating and crafted in a manner that learners can easily relate to (the puppet-show idiom). The accompanying voiceover reinforces the learner's ability to grasp the lessons easily, and repetition adds to the strengthening of what is learned.

The method is implemented by using computers, which deliver the lessons ('shows') in multimedia form to the learners. Supplementing computers in this process are reference textbooks of the National Literacy Mission.

The initial experiment for the CBFL programme was conducted in Beeramguda village in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh in February 2000. This was followed by an extended trial run in 80 centres spread across the districts of Medak, Guntur, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. The initial experiment and the trial run highlighted the following advantages of the project:

  • Acceleration in the pace of 'learning to read' (it takes about one-third of the time that writing-oriented methods require).
  • Flexibility in adjusting to individual learning speeds.
  • Lower dropout rates in comparison with other adult literacy programmes.
  • Does not require trained teachers or large-scale infrastructure.
  • Can be conducted on low-end computers (these are the kind of machines that many organisations can afford to give away).
  • Can effectively enhance existing adult-literacy programmes.
  • The multimedia format ensures that the pronounication of the words/letters is taught accurately through the system, rather than being left to individual teachers. This is particularly useful for languages like Tamil, where the same letter can be pronounced differently (based on the context).

From student to teacher
Each centre under the project has a computer and an instructor, or prerak, as they are called, to conduct a class. A typical class has between 15 and 20 people and is held in the evening hours.

In the early days of the programme, most of the instructors were retired teachers or people involved with the adult-literacy movement in the state. While the teachers and others continue to help out, many of the classes are now conducted by those made literate by the project.

Video clip
The CBFL method explained (.wmv, 925KB)
Download Windows Media Player to view this clip

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