The inauguration ceremony of the Institute of Eminence project on “Long-term literacy training and its impact on cognitive functioning” was held on Sunday June 27th at the Govt. Primary School, Serilingampally. The project sanctioned to Prof. Ramesh Kumar Mishra, Center for Neural and Cognitive Sciences (CNCS), School of Medical Sciences through the IoE scheme at University of Hyderabad aims to administer long-term literacy training in Kannada and Telugu to illiterate participants and investigate its impact on cognitive functioning. This ambitious and challenging project involves an intensive training program on a large number of participants (approximately 120) and a wide array of tasks for measuring cognitive functioning.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Shri. Beri Ramchandra Yadav, President, Vikarabad District Upa Sarpanch Association and corporator of Serilingampally Shri. Ragam Nagadhar Yadav. Prof. Ramesh Mishra started the event by explaining the aims and objectives of the project and how the participants can benefit from it. Prof. Mishra thanked all the dignitaries for their extended support to this project. The school headmaster and social worker Narasimhan was also acknowledged for efforts in recruiting participants for the study and helping with the logistics. The councillor and the corporator extended their best wishes to the project and underlined the importance of taking up such research projects with social relevance. They thanked Prof. Mishra and the University of Hyderabad for undertaking such a project.
The research team, which will carry out the testing and training, will be headed by Ms. Vaishnavi Mohite, a 3rd year PhD student at CNCS. Vaishnavi, along with other members of the team were also present at the ceremony and their efforts were acknowledged by all the speakers. The ceremony ended with the participants registering themselves for the study. The pre-training phase of data collection will begin in the next week, which will be followed by the 8-month long training program.
Prof Ramesh Mishra with his collaborator Dr. Falk Huettig from Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands has already published a significant body of work in high impact journals such as Science Advances on the role of literacy on cognition. These projects were previously undertaken in Allahabad, Lucknow and Delhi and involved recording of changes in the brain activity as a function of literacy training. The current Institute of Eminence project extends these experimental approaches to bilingual illiterates from low socioeconomic strata in India for the first time. A key novelty of the project is to examine if literacy training in two languages is more beneficial than training in one language. The outcome of this project has serious implications for policy-making with regards to improving literacy in India.