According to the guidelines laid down by the UN, Illiteracy is defined as “The inability to read and write a simple message in any language.” Let’s first analyze this definition closely. An illiterate person is like a handicapped person who is unfamiliar with the happenings in his surroundings, cannot even do basic day to day things like driving because of his lack of ability to understand the basic symbols and traffic signs, cannot read the menus at restaurants.

The illiteracy rates vary from region to region depending on the factors like wealth and urbanization. One common thing to be pointed out in the countries with high illiteracy rates is the social custom which curbs the education of females. The main reason behind the progress of developed countries can be attributed to their high literacy rates. This is because high literacy rates means more knowledgeable and skilled people in the country (what we call human capital). Literate people can understand and learn the things more easily, so they enjoy a higher socio-economic status as well as catalyze the development of the country as a whole. Even if we look into the history, we will find that literacy is the pre requisite for development of the country. The countries like Afghanistan, Niger, Guinea, Benin, Somalia, which have low literacy rates also have lower developing rates in comparison to countries with high literacy rates.

Its hard to figure out whether the issues like child labor, population growth etc are consequences of high illiteracy rate or whether the situation is other way round Whatever may be the answer, one thing is for sure that there is a cycle of issues, all interconnected, and fighting against one will definitely affect the chain. To liberate ourselves from the shackles of ignorance, poverty etc, we need to get out of this vicious circle. We all recognize that illiteracy is bed, that it prevents the cultural growth of a people. But illiteracy in our country continues to exist on an appalling scale. Even today among ten in India about five are illiterate. Nor is there any organized effort to do away with this deplorable state of backlog. We tinker at the problem instead of tackling it thoroughly. We made experiments. The States have ambitious programmes of setting up primary schools in every village, but these are yet in the cold shade of neglect.

The measures taken so far includes free teaching sessions, educational seminars, programmes and workshops conducted by different organizations. Involving people in different ways to create leadership opportunities for youth, learn the acts of fellowship and internships etc. Building up of new schools, colleges etc in all parts of the country is yet another step taken in this regard.

The major reason behind the failure of these programs and actions is the non – participation of people living in rural areas, lack of awareness, corruption involved while utilizing the money donated for building of the schools and colleges. Also the government puts more emphasis on deficit models rather than analyzing the situation properly and making people learn the things they are good at. People are forced to learn the things in which they are least interested and thus it hinders the development of their personality as a whole.

People should be allowed to choose their area of interest and then the respective teaching sessions should be conducted. Moreover the capital donated for building up of educational institutes should be kept under check by vigilance department. Moreover the illegal practices can be stopped by keeping a track on the whole development process, from construction to management of the educational organizations.

It is really most unfortunate that we have 296 million illiterates, age seven years and above, as per the 2001 census. To spread literacy among the children in about 100,000 villages in India is a formidable task. According to UN Report “The Education For All–Global Monitoring Report”, India is making good progress to eradicate illiteracy. It is surprising that two-thirds of the total illiterate people are women.

“Many of the 8.3 million Indian children born with low birth weight will carry a burden of disadvantage with them into primary school,.. in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Nepal, the big challenge is keeping children in school once they enrol,” the Report further added.
If the children drop out of the school early, their unoccupied minds may lead them to criminal activities.

High illiteracy rates in rural parts of India is an area of the Indian education system that cannot be overlooked. Hampered by the government and by other factors the quality of education in rural districts has been quite poor. High dropout rates and low enrollment by the children have contributed to the large illiteracy rate. Kerala, a rural state of India boasts many areas of progress and serves as a model for other rural areas and many of the wealthier parts of India. Without drastic changes by the government and by its citizens, India is well on its way to becoming the world’s most illiterate nation.

We, the youth have got the freedom of speech. Lets join hands and enlighten the world.

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