Literacy: A Bridge From Misery to Hope
What is Literacy?
One of the most essential indicators of the quality of a country’s human capital is ‘Literacy’, which is defined as the ability and willingness to engage with numbers, languages so as to construct and communicate meanings in all aspects of daily living. Precisely it is a process of expanding competencies of reading and writing for the purpose of understanding oneself and the world.
It comes fundamental to learning and helps in realizing the ultimate aim of education, i.e. to equip children with the necessary skills required to fulfill their potential.
Literacy : Global Recognition
The significance of literacy is globally recognized and since 1967, literacy day celebrations have taken place annually around the world “to remind the international community of importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies”.
Global Literacy Rates
The intellection is to raise awareness and remind people its essentiality as a matter of dignity and human rights. Perhaps, literacy is a key driver for sustainable development and thereupon, it has been included in proposed Sustainable Development Goals-2030. Likewise, countries are working to ensure attainment of 100% literacy rate and that equitable quality education is available for all.
India’s stand and its functioning towards the desired goal have been enumerated by National Statistical Office (NSO) in its recent report. Accordingly, India has shown impressive improvement in its learning agenda - both urban and rural. With a lofty jump to 77.7% in overall literacy rate, nation is on its way to accomplish the set objectives. Moreover, majority of administrative states are contributing in emerging India into a literate nation.
NSS 75th Round: findings about level of education
Addressing the Paradox
At the same time the country is said to be passing through a great dichotomy. The imparities in educational scenario can be observed in terms of gender, age, region and social groups.
To put that in context, the released data of literacy rate highlights gender gap in India which is as high as 14.4%, clearly reflecting the under investment in schooling of Indian women due to social, economic and cultural factors.
Literacy level of various Indian states
Similarly, the difference between top performing state ‘Kerala’ and worst performer state ‘Andhra Pradesh’ is awfully alarming to an extent of 29.8%; these numbers are a reminder of extremities and paradox which India is going through. Additionally, prevalence of illiteracy in social groups and in wider age gaps are obscuring the advancement made with regard to child and youth literacy.
Hence, it can be deduced that 77.7% literacy rate is not as progressive as it looks; rather it is quite artificial in the form of educational developments limiting to urban male population of the regions which are historically and socio- culturally rich, thus, leaving behind a large group of inhabitants who are still struggling with the basic education.
In order to address the problem, government and responsible stakeholders needs to up their game by focusing on subordinate sections of society. Some of the initiatives which can be taken by authorities are listed below:
1. Conjugate literacy with employment schemes
Participation in educational programmes should be directly linked to employment opportunities and economic gains. Partakers should be trained according to the job desired with a provision of additional incentives to encourage them in learning.
2. Technology to support Adult Literacy
Eritrea in Africa, utilized means of mass communication to train people in their local languages. Similarly, in India educational programmes can be broadcasted in regional languages on radio to reach adult population at distant places. Likewise, mobile phones and mobile applications specifically designed as per the age group of learner can be incorporated into our system to improve skill acquisition of adults.
3. Creating awareness is never obsolete
One of the hindrances which prevent people in becoming literate is that they see little relevance and utility in it. They would rather want to join workforce at an early age instead of going to school as there are direct monetary benefits linked to a job. Such people should be made aware of the advantages and importance of education.
Government should equip them with learning skills to support income – generating activities, like what was done in Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. Similarly, vocational training should be exercised to prepare people in skills like bangle-making, block-painting, jute-work and other handcrafts.
4. Stronger voice to present initiatives taken
Government’s current educational policies, associated schemes and programmes like Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Schemes, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao project and provisions of Right to Education Act should be monitored, assessed, controlled and implemented with utmost sincerity so that objective is solicited to wider audience.
5. More power to Community Participation and Volunteerism
Mobilization of Volunteers, NGO’s and seeking community participation to ensure that every individual has basic competence to read and write is what we dream of in our agenda of a literate nation. It is believed that if every literate member of a community could commit to teach at least one person how to read and write, this would ultimately help in changing the country’s landscape quickly.
These are some of the measures which may act as a powerful force to existing plans and projects with regard to universal literacy agenda. If implemented in good faith they may help in realizing the UNDP Sustainable Development goals in terms of Quality Education and literacy.
Kofi Annan has beautifully expounded the significance of literacy. According to him, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories.”
The words were expressed years back but they still stand true. Undoubtedly, India aspires for such literacy and hopes to transform it into a reality. The nation seeks it as a platform for democratization and as a means to promote cultural identity.
While the country is progressing towards a literate state, education should be prioritised much more and given a top spot in all plans and programmes. Policy makers must aim to vanquish barriers posed by illiteracy by addressing imparities lying underneath spectrum of education. Re-examination of agendas and adjustment in policies are vital to times so as to grow into a knowledge based economy.
For everyone, everywhere, erudition is a basic human right and we must promote and penetrate it to our remotest areas so that each individual is empowered with the basic competence of understanding.
Lastly, it can be said that literacy is a road to human progress and means through which one can realize his or her full potential so it should be bucked up in responsible manner.
- Andhra Pradesh: At 66%, Andhra’s literacy rate worst, Delhi’s 2nd best at 89% | India News - Times o
India News: Andhra Pradesh’s literacy rate of 66.4% is the worst among all states in India and significantly lower than Bihar's 70.9%. Similarly, Telangana’s 72.8
- Summary analysis of NSS Report No.585: Household Social Consumption on Education in India NSS 75th R
- Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education In India NSS 75TH Round (JULY 2017- JUNE
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Kavya Jain