Saakshar Bharat programme: A plan by Narendra Modi Govt to improve literacy rate in India

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President Pranab Mukherjee. (PTI photo)
On November 17, 1965, UNESCO declared September 8 as International Literacy Day. It was first celebrated in 1966 with the aim to highlight importance of literacy to individuals and society as a whole. Each year on International Literacy Day, UNESCO reminds everyone of the status of literacy globally.

As per the data revealed by UNESCO, nearly 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women.

Why celebrating International Literacy day?

Initiated by UNESCO, it been over 40 years that this day is being celebrated. It is done to remind the international community that literacy is a human right and is a key for socio-economic progress.

As per UNESCO, "The theme of International Literacy Day 2014 is Literacy and Sustainable Development. Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration. "

The importance of observing International Literacy Day is to mobilize public opinion and tell them why literacy is important. In a way , it is in favour of the struggle against illiteracy.

As said by UNESCO, "Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy."

The literacy rate in India

As per a report in Indianexpress, "Figures revealing increase in number of literates in the country from 2001 to 2011 speak volume about the status of female literacy. In 2001, female literacy rate was 53.67 and it could only increase up to 64.64 in 2011. While in the case of males, literacy rate was already 80.89 in 2011."

What has Pranab Mukherjee said

President Pranab Mukherjee today emphasised on stepping up efforts toward complete eradication of illiteracy from the country with enhanced focus on improving literacy rate among SC, ST, minorities and disadvantaged sections of the society.

"Our objective should be to bring the literacy rate not only on par with the world average but to the levels attained by the leading societies of the world,"

"Today, more than 67 years after our Independence, where are we? The literacy rate has increased by four times from 18 per cent in 1951 to about 74 per cent in 2011. Despite this, our literacy level is below the world average of 84 per cent," the President said.

The President also encouraged the corporate and private sectors, voluntary agencies and civil society organisations to make efforts to improve adult literacy.

What has the Govt planned to improve literacy rate?

Government plans to improve the literacy rates of our country by improving the same for women, SC, ST and minorities.

"It is the foremost concern of our government to substantially improve literacy rates of women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities," Smriti Irani, the human resource development minister said.

Government plans to initiate "Saakshar Bharat" programme which is sought to promote adult education.

The programme will provide opportunities for learning basic literacy, equivalency with formal education system and continuing education.

Smriti said, "The programme runs in 385 districts covering 1.54 lakh gram panchayats in 26 states and one union territory. Primers have been developed and printed in 13 languages and 26 dialects to impart literacy in local language."

She also said, "We had introduced a system of assessment and certification of literacy skills of learners with the help of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). More than 2.86 crore adults have been certified as literate across the country till March 2014 and more than 70 percent of them are women."

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