Evolution of BGVS
From day one, we at BGVS were quite clear that literacy and education cannot be forced upon people; our primary responsibility was to create demand and quest for learning among the illiterate masses. And we believed that it is the collective responsibility of the educated to lead the illiteracy eradication programme. It was the combined efforts of nearly 12 million volunteers, spreading awareness on literacy in campaign mode that enabled the country’s literacy rate which was 52% in 1991, to achieve an incredible leap of 14% to 66% in ten years - the highest decadal increase in literacy rate since India’s independence in 1947.
During the Literacy Campaign, BGVS constantly encountered queries from the neo-literate parents on education for their children. Efforts to meet this demand lead BGVS to Basic education, initially through the Jeevanshala program and later through Gyan Vigyan Vidyalas and Special learning centres. Basic Education Resource Center was developed to support academic aspects
On interacting with the community over sustained period, we realised that the problems of the people cannot be viewed in isolation. For example, while education is required to ensure social justice and better livelihood, the conditions of living and the social factors play an important role in determining whether the child attends school regularly. It is hard to make a child attend school without addressing the issue of survival of its family and without making learning enjoyable in schools.
We realised the need to address the society’s well being as part of larger socio-economic, cultural and political processes of development that have policy implications. We realised that the endeavour must be to make the society conscious about their rights and responsibilities, so that they get better dignity and a better quality of life; leading to true participation of the community and strengthening of the democratic ethos