“Some of the brightest minds in the country can be found on the last benches of the classroom”
While the scientist-turned-former President APJ Abdul Kalam quoted his thoughts somewhat like this but he would have been astonished to know had he been alive that of all the illiterate women in the world, over one-third of them are Indian.
In a layman’s language, literacy refers to the ability to read and write.
If we consider literacy in India, it takes us back to our school days – sitting on wooden benches with the teacher writing on the chalkboard or reading out from textbooks. But then, go back a little further and think to the days before the colonial era. Before the British Raj came in, India had a rich legacy of education, skill training and mentoring. All our scriptures and texts talk of the old Gurukul system where knowledge and education would be imparted not just in the literary texts but even the innate skills of the student would be honed making them ready for the society.
Times have changed and so the statistics. In 1947, India’s literacy rate was 12 percent. In 2011, it was 75 percent. Though it might sound impressive, the average literacy rate in the nations is 84 percent, leaving India far behind.
Tripura bags first position with almost 94% people being literate while Bihar is the least literate state inhabiting only 63% people with the ability to read and write. This pole-digging difference between two Indian states demands a rigid compensation of education.
India will be 50 years late in achieving its universal education goals, according to the latest report released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation or UNESCO.
With over 1 crore out-of-school students in the lower secondary level, India’s target of achieving sustainable development goal of providing quality education to every child by 2030 is far behind schedule, as per the Global Education Monitoring report 2016.
Education is the fundamental right of every child below 14 years of age. Amidst chaos to provide this right HRD Ministry has been allocated 85,010 crores to assist education sector. But data reveal that only one in hundred girls in rural area study up to 12th standard.
Recent examination question paper leaks of CBSE and the lethargic response of the Board to the same put a question mark on the board’s efficiency. In SSC examination, a gang of four obtained remote access to candidate’s computer to solve paper. And not to forget, the mass cheating issues in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to tarnish the education system. These instances create a loophole for poor education of Secondary and Higher education. We can’t be assured of high future literacy if these will continue. Education shall be at stake and the rich might be brain-washed to pursue quality education in foreign institutions.
Though we are getting into socio-political opinion on an economic blog, the dots are connected and we need to be cognizant of this severe issue for India’s economic development. It sounds unrealistic to achieve a target of 100% literacy by 2022 as expected by the Government of India.
In a poor education system, quality has worsened by installing reservation in the primary and higher education to backward classes irrespective of their financial feasibility to achieve the same.
We leave the reader with a question to ponder:
“It is true that education costs money, but then so does ignorance?”
Author | Kshitij Chitransh