“Literacy arouses hopes, not only in society as a whole but also in the individual who is striving for fulfillment, happiness and personal benefit by learning how to read and write. Literacy… means far more than learning how to read and write… The aim is to transmit… knowledge and promote social participation.” – UNESCO Institute for Education
Literacy is the ability to read, write, listen, understand and speak a language. In modern background, the word depicts as reading and writing for better communication that lets one understand and communicate abstract ideas.
The Literacy rate in India has showed remarkable growth in last one decade. Especially after the implementation of free education in the villages, the literacy rate has gone up overwhelmingly in states like Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Census 2011 literacy data reveals that, India’s effective literacy rate has recorded a 9.2 per cent to reach 74.04 per cent. Interestingly, literacy rate improved in a noted rate among females as compared to males. While the effective literacy rate for males rose from 75.26 to 82.14 per cent marking a rise of 6.9 per cent, it increased by 11.8 per cent for females to go from 53.67 to 65.46 per cent.
Ten states and union territories, including Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Tripura, Goa, Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Chandigarh, National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, have already reached above 85 percent literacy rate as per the target set by the Planning Commission to be achieved by 2011-12. Kerala has the highest literacy rate at 93.91 per cent followed by Lakshadweep at 92.28 per cent. Bihar is at the bottom of the ladder with literacy rate of 63.82 followed by Arunachal Pradesh at 66.95.
Development is a dynamic process and it promotes important changes in the society. Literacy plays an important role in economy development. The impact of literacy on an economic development is as follows:
1. Education improves manpower skills thus resulting in economic development at both Micro level and Macro level.
2. Education presents a responsible person to the society.
3. Increased literacy rate helps an economy to grow on strong bases of competition. Increasing rate of literacy also helps to control and maintain population growth.
4. Increased technical education helps to develop innovative methods of production and distribution thus reducing the cost of production and increase the rate of return.
5. Educated and skilled manpower are basic needs of any country. Availing their services can earn more of the foreign exchange and GDP with an increase in foreign earnings.
6. Proper resources bring improvement in production. Increased production leads to more employment opportunities which drive away unemployment from the country.
7. Increased literacy rate also improves the communication skills for better job opportunities.
• Cost of education is very high these days and has become unaffordable for certain income groups.
• Developing countries like India is suffering from Illiteracy due to increasing population and decreasing facilities
• Unawareness about the role of education
• Ineffective implementation of educational programmes in rural areas
• Lack of entrepreneurship by the educated to share and spread knowledge
• Preference to work rather than to study (Child Labor)
• Lack of infrastructure facilities and inefficient teaching staff are also major drawbacks for the reduced literacy rate in India.
Government of India has taken several initiatives to improve the literacy rate in villages and towns of India. To encourage education system, the government is totally discouraging child labor for the protection on child harassment. State Government has also aimed to improve the literacy rate in districts and villages, where people are very poor and not able to avail education facilities. With introduction of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan by the government, people in the remote areas of India are getting aids for education. With implementation of all these programs, there has been a good improvement in literacy rate in last 10 years but there is still a long way to go.
Steps taken by Government of India to improve Literacy Rate in India:
• Free education programs to poor people living in villages and towns.
• Setting up of new schools and colleges at district and state levels.
• Formation of various committees to check the proper utilization of funds allotted to improve literacy rate.
• Literacy campaign through community mobilization.
The Kasturba Gandhi Shiksha Yojana programme was established to construct residential schools for girls in all the districts that have a thoroughly low female literacy rate.
• Operation Blackboard is another scheme launched in 1987 to enhance the retention rate of children by providing minimum essential facilities in all primary schools.
• Decentralized planning and management of elementary education is a programme set by the National Policy on Education, 1986 to manage the elementary education.
• National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education is a scheme exclusively designed to increase the enrolment, retention and attendance in primary classes by supplementing nutritional requirements of children attending primary schools.
• District Primary Education Programme aims at operationalsing the strategies for achieving through district specific planning and disaggregated target setting.
• Bihar Education Project (BEP) was launched in 1991 to improve the elementary education system in Bihar.
• “Education for All” is another project launched by the Government of Uttar Pradesh with World Bank in June, 1993.
• The Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP) is a programme applicable in the south central state of Andhra Pradesh to provide training programme to teachers and give a boost to school construction activities.
• The Shiksha Karmi Project (SKP) is aimed to improve the primary education in the remote and socio-economically backward villages of Rajasthan, with primary focus on girls.
• Lok Jumbish (LJ) is another project running in Rajasthan to universalize the primary education for girls.
“Educate one man, you educate one person, but educate a woman and you educate a whole civilization” said Mahatma Gandhi.
• Creating an environment for women to demand knowledge and information, authorizing themselves to change their lives.
• Spreading the message that education of women is a “must” for fighting against their backwardness.
• Highlight the problems of the girl child and stress the need for universalisation of elementary education as a way of addressing the issue.
• Literacy campaign programmes have generated social awareness among women regarding the importance of education, both for themselves as well as for their children.
• The literacy campaigns have also motivated and encouraged women learners to educate their children, particularly girls by enrolling them in formal schools.
• The literacy classes conducted under literacy campaigns have given women an opportunity to break the remoteness which is socially structured into their lives, giving them a chance to meet other women and learn collectively- rather than learn singly as individuals.
• Total literacy campaigns have provided illiterate adult women, who have been deprived of access to formal schooling, with a great opportunity for reading, writing, increasing awareness levels and skills training.
• Literacy campaigns have played an important role in improving the status of women within the society.
• Women literacy has shown major developments in the enrollment programs of boys and girls in schools.
• Participation of women in various literacy campaigns has opened several opportunities for neo-literate women to step out of the households and involve themselves in some enterprise or a new vocation.
• The literacy campaigns in all districts have gone beyond the literacy skills and have served to enhance knowledge and skills for better management of expenditure and improving earning capacities.
• Literacy campaigns in most districts have taken up health and hygiene issues as an integral component of adult education programs.
HSBC is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London and United Kingdom. As per Forbes Magazine, HSBC is the world’s second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company. It has around 7,500 offices in 87 countries and territories across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America and around 100 million customers. HSBC is actively supporting many educational programmes to underprivileged children. Each year, HSBC provides two scholarships to the students admitted for undergraduate or graduate studies at Oxford, Cambridge or London Universities in the UK. The scholarships are provided for a maximum period of 3 years for any of the courses offered at these Universities. A total of 15 scholarships have been awarded till date. Below are the examples of the HSBC initiatives:
1. Butterflies: Future First has supported a Mobile Education Resource Centre (MERC) equipped with computers, books and other educational resources for street and working children. This van will travel to various locations.
2. Prayas is serving nearly 50,000 underprivileged children in 7 states of India. Future First is supporting one of their centers that provides bridge courses for out-of-school slum children between the ages of 6 – 14 years with an aim to turn them into the formal education system.
3. Deepalaya is an education project for out-of-school children from Patpar Ganj – a slum in East Delhi. This project deals with identifying and training 750 children of school going age in that slum and turning them into the formal education system by August 2010.
4. Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation is a 17 year old organization established under the leadership of Dr. Kiran Bedi. The organization basically works in the field of community development to empower people through education and rehabilitation. Future First supports 7 libraries in 2 resettlement colonies of Delhi catering to children studying in non-formal education centres.
5. Doorstep School is being supported to establish and run Early Childhood Education Centres or ‘Balwadis’ in port communities of Mumbai. These centres have been playing a key role in eradicating child labor and encouraging them to get educated.
6. Salaam Baalak Trust: Future First is supporting a night Shelter at Umerkhadi for 30 homeless girls who face the risk of abuse on the streets. The girls receive education, health care, vocational training, and counseling and are finally rehabilitated once they turn 18 years old.
7. Light of Life Trust (LOLT): HSBC is supporting the education and integration of out of-school children in Karjat, Madgaon and Alibag. The goal is not just literacy, but the all-round development of each child.
8. Shoshit Seva Sangh is being supported to run a residential school that provides education and vocational training to children of the ‘Mushar’ community of Bihar.
9. Rural Urban Development Institute (RUDI) Manager’s School in 9 districts in the Western India state of Gujarat is run by SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) Gram Mahila Haat.
1. Literacy and economic development by Qurratulain Akhtar
2. National literacy mission-Literacy and Women
3. Department of school education and literacy-Government of India
4. Corporate sustainability at HSBC in India.