Today is International Literacy Day – a day which has been celebrated on Sept. 8 since its founding in 1966 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Society embraces UNESCO's goal of striving for a more literate world. As we mark the day, along with our monthlong celebration of Literacy Month, we're shining a spotlight on a past Literacy Grant recipient.
In Bengaluru, India, amid a culture where nurses are often marginalized due to the historic suppression of women, Shelby Garner and her colleagues are working to provide the technology needed to enhance an e-café for students at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital. The e-café will be located in a living and learning center at the hospital. The program recruits qualified young women from rural villages who have little opportunities for higher education and provides scholarships for them to attend the nursing institute.
Garner, who was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi at Texas Woman's University, is an associate professor at the Baylor University. Baylor has formed a team of professors who are setting up online classrooms for the BBH students.
She shared that even though the grant would help purchase technology such as tablets and laptops for the e-café, the scope of the project will involve much more. "This technology will give these students the resources they need to collaborate with experts globally. One goal of this project is to uplift nursing students by providing the latest technologies to improve their health literacy and improve learning through collaboration with experts worldwide," she reported.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed their progress, the project remains on track to launch in January. She hopes to travel to India to help with the launch but feels confident it can proceed even if she's prevented from doing so. "Currently in India, many of the students were sent home under the mandatory shutdown but things are improving," she shared. "We hope to have the Living and Learning Centre with Smart Classrooms fully occupied by January. Even if it is not occupied, the modules will be launched for students to access from their homes as some have availability of technology there."
Looking into the future, Garner added, "My hope is that this project will be sustainable where students have free access to technology in their living spaces to use to increase their health literacy as they prepare to care for and teach patients, improving the health literacy of an entire community."