Dalit Adult Literacy Program – India

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$13,575 $13,575
Project Code: IND-REL-DAL-N02


As the project name suggests, this project aims to teach Dalit (outcast / untouchable) communities to read and write up to a fifth grade level, and to provide them with basic maths skills. In addition, teaching and empowerment of their rights in society and hygiene and sanitation will be included in the curriculum. The Dalit Adult Literacy Project conducted an initial 12 month trial ending in September 2014. This was a success and as a result Entrust has agreed to fund a further year of the project.


Dalit Adult Literacy Project brings hope for transformational life change and emancipation to Dalit people as it strives to break the linkage between Dalit literacy, social mobility and economic empowerment. Illiteracy among the Dalits is extremely high despite government measures since India’s independence in 1947. This is in large part due to the caste system and the culture around it which remains unchanged, with Dalits at the lower level of the caste system. Dalit adult literacy is directly linked to illiteracy among Dalit children, perpetuating the ‘poverty trap’ experienced for 3,000 years among the Dalits.

We are delighted that Dalit community leaders have initiated this Project and therefore the program is seen as theirs, with their active involvement in encouraging Dalits to enrol.


Global literacy experts believe 70% of Indians are functionally illiterate, twice official government estimates. Over 200 million Indian women cannot read or write, the vast majority being from Dalit communities. Illiteracy has become a major plague for these communities to break-free from the shackles of perennial poverty and vicious cycle of illiteracy amongst the Dalit children.  Illiteracy occurs primarily in the impoverished rural India where over 86% of Indians earn less than $2.50 a day and 456 million earn less than $1.25 a day.  These communities, due to high rates of adult illiteracy, tend to force their children into menial jobs with over 35% of school-aged children not enrolled in a school.  The Dalits have been largely excluded from many of the education reforms in India due to the pervasive caste system.  The budget for this covers 10 centres for a year’s education.  In local currency the budget comes to 662,400 INR.


  • Dalit adults will be able to read and write and perform simple mathematics, empowering them in so many ways, such as being able to open a bank account
  • Dalit parents will be encouraged to send their children to school, breaking the generational poverty cycle
  • Business classes and rights information will further empower the Dalit communities, economically and socially

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