Education play a very significant role for any human being and it plays a major role for overall development of any individual. In today’s environment we see that how many people specially females are very much illiterate. They don’t have proper access to educate themselves or they have very limited access to education. As per the census done in 2011, an effective literacy rate for women was 65.46% whereas for men it was 85.14%.
Lack of education means lack of awareness. Illiterate women are not aware of their rights. They know nothing about initiatives taken by the government for their welfare. Illiterate women keep on struggling hard and bear harshness of life, family and even their husbands.
As per new study, India’s school education system is under-performing in terms of quality in female literacy when compared to its neighbours, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. These findings were released by International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (or Education Commission). It shows that India’s system is under-performing.
The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48%, much less than 92% in Nepal, 74% in Pakistan and 54% in Bangladesh. The female literacy rates in India went up by one to 15% after completing two years of schooling. Corresponding numbers for Pakistan and Nepal were three to 31% and 11 to 47% respectively. Around the world, female literacy rates are improving. However, it is not clear if that is because of improvement in school quality. India ranks low in global indices of female literacy as well. African countries Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania all rank higher than India. India was ranked 38th among the 51 developing countries for female literacy rates when countries are ranked by earliest grade at which at least they were.
One of the main factors contributing to this relatively low literacy rate is usefulness of education and availability of schools in vicinity in rural areas. There is a shortage of classrooms to accommodate all the students in 2006–2007. In addition, there is no proper sanitation in most schools. The study of 188 government-run primary schools in central and northern India revealed that 59% of the schools had no drinking water facility and 89% no toilets. In 600,000 villages and multiplying urban slum habitats, ‘free and compulsory education’ is the basic literacy instruction dispensed by barely qualified ‘para teachers’. The average pupil teacher ratio for all India is 42:1, implying a teacher shortage. Such inadequacies resulted in a non-standardized school system where literacy rates may differ.Furthermore, the expenditure allocated to education was never above 4.3% of the GDP from 1951 to 2002 despite the target of 6% by the Kothari Commission. This further complicates the literacy problem in India.
Severe caste disparities also exist. Discrimination of lower castes has resulted in high dropout rates and low enrolment rates. The National Sample Survey Organisation and the National Family Health Survey collected data in India on the percentage of children completing primary school which is reported to be only 36.8% and 37.7% respectively. On 21 February 2005, the Prime Minister of India said that he was pained to note that “only 47 out of 100 children enrolled in class I reach class VIII, putting the dropout rate at 52.78 percent.” It is estimated that at least 35 million, and possibly as many as 60 million, children aged 6–14 years are not in school.
Absolute poverty in India has also deterred the pursuit of formal education as education is not deemed as the highest priority among the poor as compared to other basic necessities. The MRP-based (mixed recall period) poverty estimates of about 22% of poverty in 2004–05 which translated to 22 out of 100 people are not meeting their basic needs, much less than meeting the need for education.
The large proportion of illiterate females is another reason for the low literacy rate in India. Inequality based on gender differences resulted in female literacy rates being lower at 65.46% than that of their male counterparts at 82.14%. Due to the strong stereotyping of female and male roles, Sons are thought to be more useful and hence are educated. Females are pulled to help out on agricultural farms at home as they are increasingly replacing the males on such activities that require no formal education. Fewer than 2% of girls who engaged in agriculture work attended school.
Prior to the British era, education in India commenced under the supervision of a guru in traditional schools called gurukuls. The gurukuls were supported by public donations and were one of the earliest forms of public-school offices. However, these Gurukuls catered to the Upper castes males of the Indian society and the majority population received basic literacy at temples along with trade apprenticeship as per their caste-based professions.
India’s literacy rate is at 74.04%. Tripura has achieved a literacy rate of 94.65%. Bihar is the least literate state in India, with a literacy of 63.82%. Several other social indicators of the two states are correlated with these rates, such as life expectancy at birth (71.61 for males and 75 for females in Kerala, 65.66 for males and 64.79 for females in Bihar), infant mortality per 1,000 live births (10 in Kerala, 61 in Bihar), the birth rate per 1,000 people (16.9 in Kerala, 30.9 in Bihar) and death rate per 1,000 people (6.4 in Kerala, 7.9 in Bihar).
Every census since 1881 had indicated rising literacy in the country, but the population growth rate had been high enough that the absolute number of illiterates rose with every decade. The 2001–2011 decade is the second census period (after the 1991–2001 census period) when the absolute number of Indian illiterates declined (by 31,196,847 people), indicating that the literacy growth rate is now outstripping the population growth rate.
Six Indian states account for about 70% of all illiterates in India: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal. Slightly less than half of all Indian illiterates (48.12%) are in the six Hindi-speaking states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh. Large variations in literacy exist even between contiguous states. While there are few states at the top and bottom, most states are just above or below the national average.
The right to education is a fundamental right and UNESCO aims at education for all by 2015. India, along with the Arab states and sub-Saharan Africa, has a literacy level below the threshold level of 75%, but efforts are on to achieve that level. The campaign to achieve at least the threshold literacy level represents the largest ever civil and military mobilisation in the country. International Literacy Day is celebrated each year on 8 September with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
The list of action taken by the Government of India to attract the illiterate people in rural and urban areas, those were the popular initiative, which are as follows-
National Literacy Mission
The National Literacy Mission, launched in 1988, aimed at attaining a literacy rate of 75 per cent by 2007. Its charter is to impart functional literacy to non-literates in the age group of 35–75 years. The Total Literacy Campaign is their principal strategy for the eradication of illiteracy. The Continuing Education Scheme provides a learning continuum to the efforts of the Total Literacy and post literacy programmes.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Hindi for Total Literacy Campaign) was launched in 2001 to ensure that all children in the 6–14-year age-group attend school and complete eight years of schooling by 2010. An important component of the scheme is the Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education, meant primarily for children in areas with no formal school within a one-kilometre radius. The centrally sponsored District Primary Education Programme, launched in 1994, had opened more than 160,000 new schools by 2005, including almost 84,000 alternative schools.
The bulk of Indian illiterates live in the country’s rural areas, where social and economic barriers play an important role in keeping the lowest strata of society illiterate. Government programs alone, however well-intentioned, may not be able to dismantle barriers built over centuries. Major social reformation efforts are sometimes required to bring about a change in the rural scenario. Specific mention is to be made regarding the role of the People’s Science Movements (PSMs) in the Literacy Mission in India during the early 1990s. Several non-governmental organizations such as Pratham, ITC, Rotary Club, Club have worked to improve the literacy rate in India.