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Literacy Drive in India | Social Issue Essay, Article, Paragraph for Class 12, Graduation and Competitive Examination.

Literacy Drive in India

Scheme of the essay:

Exposition: The moving force behind literacy programme had always been universal literacy.

Rising Action: Literacy campaigns are adopted by the National Literacy Mission.


(1) 90 million are enrolled as learners.

(2) But as the time span is only 6-9 months proper learning is not possible.

(3) The expert group recommended that 50-60 per cent of the campaigns should be acceptable.

(4) When the Total literacy campaign is over, three types of non-literates will be available.

(5) Then how to tackle the problems.

Falling Action: Environmental building and mobilisation are needed.

Ending: The drops-out and left-outs be covered.

The goal of universal literacy has been the moving force behind the literacy programmes of countries. It is certainly our hope that by 2005 AD India would achieve this goal. The goal in the meanwhile is to make a hundred million people literate by 1999.

Literacy campaigns are the dominant strategy adopted by the National Literacy Mission to promote literacy in the country. And they have yielded results which in some cases are very heartening. So far almost 60 million non-literates have been made literate under various programmes of adult education, 40 million of them under total literacy. campaigns.

Not only this almost 90 million have been enrolled as learners and so far 140 million non-literates have been identified. The goal of making a hundred million people in the 15-35 age group literate by the year 1998-1999 certainly seems achievable and if the success rate is 80 per cent it would indeed be a laudable achievement.

However, one must remember that while as per the 1991 Census the estimated illiterate population in the 15-35 age group in India is approximately 110 million, by 1996 under the total literacy campaigns 140 million non-literates had already been identified. And these figures are in the context of 424 districts where Total Literacy Campaigns (TLCs) have been sanctioned. There are still over a hundred districts where TLCs have yet to be sanctioned and if they are taken into account, they will obviously swell the ranks of illiterates by another 10 million or so.

Not only this, the fact is that not all the learners enrolled in the literacy campaigns would necessarily join the ranks of the literates. The norms of the test prescribed to declare a person literate under the Total Literacy Campaigns are rather strict. A learner is expected to score a minimum of 50 per cent in the test of reading, writing and arithmetic and an overall score of 70 per cent. People have vehemently protested that the standards set are too high but there is a logic to this strictness.

The knowledge imparted to the learners which is equivalent to that of class III or IV is encapsulated into a time-span of 6-9 months, the acquisition of which would in the normal course take three to four years. The learning acquired is at best fragile, one which needs careful nurturing through post-literacy campaigns. Hence it is necessary to have high standards of evaluation to prevent a relapse into illiteracy.

In the early years of the Total Literacy Campaigns districts were in a hurry to declare themselves fully literate even if their claims were not borne out by the external evaluation conducted later. It is in order to prevent this that the Expert Group on Literacy headed by Dr Arun Ghosh recommended that the declaration of “total literacy” by districts be stopped and this recommendation has since been adopted. The Expert Group further recommended that in the highly populous low literacy States where the programme is going on at present an achievement of 55-60 per cent in the literacy campaigns should be considered acceptable and this too has been the practice in recent years.

Thus, after a Total Literacy Campaign is over there are three kinds of non-literates left. The first are the left-outs of the campaign, that is, those who were identified as non-literate but never enrolled in the literacy campaign. The second are the drop-outs, that is, those who dropped out of the classes after the first or second primer. Finally, there are those who completed all the three primers but did not manage to pass the final evaluation test.

While in the stage of post-literacy which aims at skill- upgradation and improving the quality of life of the learners an attempt is made at “mopping up” of the “left out and drop-outs of literacy” the fact is that if learners could not be covered in the “literacy campaign” which concentrates on teaching learning it would be difficult to cover them successfully in the post-literacy stage where the focus is on developing vocational skills of learners and creating linkages with other developmental departments.

Added to which is the problem of accretions to the ranks of the illiterate from the below 15-year age-group which join the ranks of the adult illiterates every year. Unless the problem of enrolment and subsequently retention of children in primary education is solved the problem would continue.

The question then is how to tackle the problem of residual illiteracy? In fact, would it even be proper to call this residual illiteracy if it involves 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the identified non-literate population? If the goal is to make India fully literate by 2005 AD even in the age-group 15-35 a clear strategy is necessary. What are the options available to us?

Could a second round of literacy campaigns be a solution? It does not seem possible. Literacy campaigns are envisaged as a people’s movement which have a time-frame and are volunteer-based. The success of the campaign’s hinges on effective environment-building and consequent mobilization. It is difficult to sustain the momentum of the movement indefinitely. Volunteer fatigue becomes evident whenever the campaign drags on and obviously in a district where a literacy campaign has run a full course to launch another Literacy Campaign to remove residual literacy would be a mistake.

Another solution is to have some sort of a permanent arrangement under the Continuing Education Centres which follow the literacy and post-literacy campaigns. At present they provide a library and sports and recreation centre etc but they could also be a centre for teaching the left-outs illiterates.

This would of course mean a reversal of the campaign approach and a return to the centre-based approach which was abandoned in the first place because it did not work. It failed primarily because it was supply-based, and did not focus on creating a demand for literacy.

Yet another possibility would be to have a sort of “each one, teach one programme” so that those genuinely interested in learning could be taught by someone provided a kit is made available to them.

Another solution would be to use the television as a medium of instruction. The Continuing Education Centres which would have television sets would be the venue where learners could sit and learn from literacy programmes on television. The Preraks (paid volunteers) working in the centres could provide assistance to the learners wherever is required.

The simplest thing would of course be not to do anything about those who, despite efforts, have remained outside the literacy fold and to concentrate on strengthening the system of primary education to ensure that they do not swell the ranks of the illiterates in the future. The drop-outs and left- outs of the literacy programmes would eventually move out of the target age-group. However, this would in effect mean that the target of universal literacy would have to be deferred by about two decades.


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