Literacy First


Communication is a basic skillful required in order to interact with fellow human beings and to assist understanding within a society. While nearly every individual learns to communicate vocally, unfortunately not many get the opportunity of attaining formal education.

On account of the need to eradicate illiteracy, International Literacy Day was first talked about on September 8 to 19, 1965, amid the World Conference of Ministers of Education in Tehran, Iran. On 26 October 1966, UNESCO assembled for the fourteenth general meeting and announced September 8  as International Literacy Day. “The need for the real emancipation of people and for the increasingly active and productive participation, in the economic, social and political life of human society, of the hundreds of millions of illiterate adults still existing in the world, make it essential to change national education policies,” the final report of the 1966 conference stated.  “National educational plans should include schooling for children and literacy training for adults as parallel elements,” the report added.

The first International Literacy Day was celebrated in 1967 — 2017 marked 50 years of this tradition. The UN already has its eyeballs on 2030 with Sustainable Development Goals aiming to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.” While UNESCO has noted optimistic developments of mounting literacy rates among children — the same cannot be said about the adult population.

Over the years, India has seen an up gradation in the education sector. But is it enough?

Literacy rate is the benchmark indicator used to track the development in the education sector. In India, the adult literacy rate has boosted by 18.4 % in 15 years. The literacy rate has risen from 40.76 % to 71.96 %. However, this does not meet the world standards. There are many sub-sections of the literacy rate — adult literacy rate, child literacy rate, female literacy rate, etc.

India recorded a major break in the male to female education ratio in the 1980s. Slowly, it advanced and in 2017 it grew up by 15%. Various government programs, for example, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, intended to aid progress.

In the 2016 Human Development Index, which looks into three categories: education, income, and health, India ranked 131 out of 188 countries. India still falls under the ‘medium human development’ category. The education sector in India is, however, to manage with the world norms. Among the BRICS nations, India was the least to expend on education in 2012.

On the event of Literacy Day, Shri Prakash Javadekar voiced that rate from 18% in 1947 has now reached 81% approximately till date. He said that we should identify the potential children who are not going to school and must get them enrolled in schools. Also, every literate person in the family must educate other illiterate persons of the family. The minister assured that next year government will start ‘School Chalo Abhiyan programme. These efforts will help to overcome the remaining 19 % illiteracy and we will be able to achieve 100 %  and 100% digital by 2022 which is a dream of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

It is the only path to development in other spheres. It establishes a relationship with the past and a tunnel to the future.  It help us discover opportunities. The economic development of a country depends upon its literate population. Focus on education without procuring basic literacy first is neither reasonable  nor  promising. Functional (with a focus on economic functions) and civic (with  emphasis on political education) literacy, adult basic education and training can bring about significant progress.

– Contributed by Tanvi

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