Classes subscribe to a very broad and practical interpretation of literacy, centering on functional literacy. Literacy also includes becoming literate in social issues, accessing government resources, and the digital world.
Because IASEW focuses so strongly on member-focused learning, teachers are recruited from within the community, undergo extensive training, and meet regularly with supervisors. Classes, which carry a maximum enrolment of 20 and last for six months, take place at the teacher’s or supervisor’s home or at a SEWA centre at times that are the most convenient for students.
When women attending literacy classes expressed the need for a magazine club for their daughters, Akashganga was born.This print magazine, founded in 1996, is published monthly in Gujarati and focuses on the holistic development of adolescent girls. The girls themselves are the writers, artists, and editors. They contribute their own artwork, stories, quizzes, puzzles, poems and articles covering a wide variety of subjects, including information on health, history, and science. The club meets every Saturday for two hours.
Cultural programmes are organised to promote peace and solidarity between religions and to showcase the talent of women and girls from the SEWA community. The women and girls who attend — and who until this programme have likely never been to a community hall or seen a stage — participate enthusiastically. Thematic skits, Garba and Raas folk dancing, Adivasi dancing, role play, and folk music create space to impart important social empowerment messages while celebrating and learning about the rich cultures in India.