September 8 is International Literacy Day as declared by UNESCO in November, 1965. This day is a reminder of the preset development target of Education for All. The theme for this year is Literacy and Sustainable Development. It aims to highlight the importance of literacy among individuals, communities and marginalized sections of the society, keeping female literacy in focus. As per UNESCO, approximately 775 million people lack minimum literacy skills and approximately 58 million children are school dropouts. As of 2011 census, India’s average literacy rate is 74.04 per cent and the literacy rate for women and men range from 65.46 per cent and 82.14 per cent respectively. However, India needs to continue work on providing education to women, especially in rural areas.
Over the years, we have understood that literacy is a tool for personal empowerment of an individual which is crucial for overall sustainable development. Fiinovation understands that literacy is the stepping stone for not only education but also for poverty eradication, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.
The main celebrations of International Literacy Day will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh which would be hosting a conference under the theme of female literacy and education. Similarly, in India there is a need to create awareness and bring girls under the ambit of mainstream education. The teacher-student ratio in India is high which puts enormous pressure on government and other agencies working in the education sector to achieve the target of education for all. Fiinovation understands that despite Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan missions, we are far away from the targets that were set in the millennium development goals and it seems that India will not be able to achieve the MDG2.
We often come across children who rather than getting an education have to work in small shops. There should be proper counseling and awareness about the importance of education, especially among marginalized sections of the society. The reasons why children do not attend schools must be understood and scrutinized and addressed one at a time. Poverty is one of main hindrances towards achievement of zero illiteracy. The government needs help design sensitive and sensible strategies that address both the issues.
From the private players’ point of view, education is more of a business nowadays. The whole idea that knowledge should be shared has lost its prominence in mainstream education. Schools and colleges should start initiatives for achieving zero illiteracy. They can spend time teaching illiterate people. Students can volunteer organizing workshops in rural areas helping the other children move up the socio-economic ladder. We all remember the slogan that we use to hear in our childhood days in Doordarshan “Padhe aur Padhaein…kuch kar ke dikhayiye.” Fiinovation believes this should become the motto of every citizen of this country.
Literacy and Education has enormous power. Not only can it bring social change but also eradicate poverty. If India has to become a sustainable country, it needs to educate every individual.
‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.’ – Mark Twain
By Rahul Choudhury
Media Team – Fiinovation