Literacy in India - An Assessment02 Jul 2010
We are going to have a largest Youth population in 2012-2015. Major hindrance to our path of growth is unskilled labour which is also uneducated too. The National Literacy Mission (NLM) was set up in May 1987 that aimed to attain 75% literacy by 2007 and had run several schemes to ensure that this target is achieved. But we were able to attain only 65% literacy (as per Census of India 2001) or 61% literacy (as per Plan Australia). 65% is a significant change in literacy rate that have been achieved considering the ground situation and realities of our country. However, we cannot make this excuse as when we had set the target in 1988 we must have thought everything before setting the target.
Nearly 70 percent of the country’s illiterate population belong to the eight states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. These states have not shown any major improvement in the government’s flagship programmes, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All), for universalisation of elementary education in a time bound manner, and the National Literacy Mission.
The failure of states to implement the NLM has forced the government to set another target – to attain 80 percent literacy rate by the end of 2012, and complete literacy three years later – by 2015. The government has earmarked a whopping Rs.850 billion ($21 billion) – five times the budget allocated earlier – for the education sector in the 11th Five Year Plan, which ends in 2012. The main reason for all this is to have a large number of people under the umbrella of skilled labour as set by UN so as to target greater opportunities for Indian market in the world economy
Also, if you might have noticed the standard of education in school have certainly gone down. See the NCERT books. It is not like government doesn't knows it, but it is a deliberate step so as large amount of people pass the exam and come under the category of educated and skilled labour.
Government is working. Also, the people who are educated should come forward and help in achieving this target. This means, that not only GOI, but also, the people of India need to work on this. There are many NGOs that are working on NLM and are getting grants for their work. But they lack support of masses. In India, we have Reservation in education for socially backward people and many people from these groups have achieved a good education and attained a good status in society. These people should come forward to help government in attaining the targets of NLM.
Until and unless the government gets support of states, bureaucracy, and its people, the targets will remain the distant dream. So, we should realize this and come forward and help government in achieving the 100% literacy by 2015. It is difficult but not impossible.