Any human being can benefit greatly from education, which is crucial to the total growth of any person. We can observe how many people, particularly women, are illiterate in the modern world. They either don’t have adequate access to education or have very little access to it. According to the 2011 census, men had an effective literacy rate of 85.14 percent compared to women’s 65.46 percent.
Lack of education translates into ignorance. Women who lack literacy are unaware of their rights. They are unaware of the government’s efforts to ensure their welfare. Women who lack literacy continue to struggle and endure the hardships of life, their families, and even their spouses.
According to a recent study, India’s school education system falls short of its neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal in terms of the quality of female literacy. The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity published these conclusions (or Education Commission). It demonstrates how poorly functioning India’s system is.
48 percent of women in India had completed five years of primary education and were literate, which is significantly lower than the rates of 92 percent in Nepal, 74 percent in Pakistan, and 54 percent in Bangladesh. After two years of education, the literacy rate for women in India increased from one to fifteen percent. The corresponding percentages for Pakistan and Nepal were respectively three to 31 percent and eleven to 47 percent. The literacy rates for women are rising everywhere. Though it is unclear if this is due to an increase in school quality. India also performs poorly on international measures of female literacy. Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia are all ranked higher than India. When comparing the female literacy rates of the 51 developing nations, India came in at number 38.
The value of education and the accessibility of schools in nearby rural areas are two major variables contributing to this comparatively low literacy rate. There are not enough classrooms available in 2006–2007 to house all the pupils. Additionally, most schools lack appropriate sanitation. According to a study of 188 government-run primary schools in central and northern India, 59 percent of the institutions lacked access to drinking water and 89 percent lacked restrooms. Basic literacy instruction is provided in 600,000 villages and expanding urban slum habitats through “free and compulsory education,” which is delivered by ill-qualified “para teachers.” India as a whole has an average pupil-to-teacher ratio of 42:1, which suggests a teacher shortage. These shortcomings led to a non-standardized educational system with variable literacy rates. Despite the Kothari Commission’s aim of 6%, the amount of money spent on education was never higher than 4.3 percent of the GDP from 1951 to 2002. This makes India’s literacy issue much more challenging.
Also present are stark caste discrepancies. Low enrollment rates and high dropout rates are the outcomes of discrimination against lower castes. The percentage of children finishing elementary education in India was only 36.8 percent according to the National Sample Survey Organization and 37.7 percent according to the National Family Health Survey. On February 21, 2005, the Indian Prime Minister expressed his regret at learning that “just 47 out of 100 students enrolled in class I graduate from class VIII, translating to a dropout rate of 52.78 percent.” Children between the ages of 6 and 14 who are not enrolled in school are thought to number at least 35 million and maybe as many as 60 million.
Since the poor do not prioritize education over other fundamental needs, India’s extreme poverty has also discouraged people from pursuing formal education. According to MRP-based (mixed recall period) poverty estimates, 22 out of every 100 people in 2004–2005 were living in poverty, which is significantly lower than the rate at which they could afford to attend school.
Another factor contributing to India’s poor literacy rate is the high percentage of female illiterates. Female literacy rates were 65.46 percent lower than male literacy rates, which were 82.14 percent, due to inequality based on gender inequalities. Sons are regarded to be more helpful and are therefore educated because of the strong stereotyping of female and male roles. As more and more women take up jobs that don’t require a formal degree, like farming, men are being drawn to assist out at home. Less than 2% of females who worked in agriculture were school-age.
In traditional institutions known as gurukuls, education in India began before the British era under the direction of a guru. One of the first types of public school offices was the gurukuls, which were funded by public donations. However, the mass of the populace got rudimentary education at temples coupled with trade apprenticeships specific to their caste-based occupations, while these Gurukuls catered to the male members of the Upper Castes of Indian society.
India has a 74.04 percent literacy rate. Tripura now has a 94.65 percent literacy rate. With a literacy rating of 63.82 percent, Bihar is the least literate state in India. The two states’ life expectancy at birth (71.61 years for men and 75 years for women in Kerala, 65.66 years for men and 64.79 years for women 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 are all correlated with these rates (6.4 in Kerala, 7.9 in Bihar).
Since 1881, every census has shown that the country’s literacy rate is rising, but because of the nation’s rapid population expansion, the absolute number of illiterates has increased every decade. The absolute number of illiterates in India decreased by 31,196,847 over the 2001–2011 decade, the second census period (following the 1991–2001 census period) showing that the literacy growth rate is now outpacing the population growth rate.
Six Indian states—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal—are home to over 70% of the country’s illiterates. The six Hindi-speaking states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh account for 48.12 percent of all illiterates in India. Even amongst neighboring states, there are significant differences in literacy. The majority of states are just above or below the national average, with only a few at the top and bottom.
The goal of UNESCO is to provide education for everyone by the year 2015. The literacy rate in India, the Arab countries, and sub-Saharan Africa is below the benchmark of 75%, but attempts are being made to raise it. The country has never seen a public and military mobilization as vast as that required to reach the minimum reading level. Every year on September 8, International Literacy Day is observed to highlight the value of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies.
The following is a list of steps made by the Indian government to promote literacy among the illiterate in both urban and rural areas.
National Literacy Mission
Launched in 1988, the National Literacy Mission sought to increase the percentage of literacy to 75% by 2007. Its mission is to teach nonliterates between the ages of 35 and 75 practical literacy. Their main plan of attack for eliminating illiteracy is the Total Literacy Campaign. The Total Literacy and post-literacy programs can benefit from the learning continuum offered by the Continuing Education Scheme.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Since its inception in 2001, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Hindi for Total Literacy Campaign) has worked to ensure that every child between the ages of six and fourteen attends school and completes eight years of formal education by the year 2010. The Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education, intended primarily for children in communities without a regular school within a one-kilometer radius, are significant parts of the program. Since its inception in 1994, the government-funded District Primary Education Programme has opened more than 160,000 new schools, including nearly 84,000 alternative schools.
The majority of illiterates in India reside in rural areas, where social and economic constraints play a significant part in keeping the lowest socioeconomic groups in the country uneducated. Even well-intentioned government programs might not be able to remove obstacles that have been erected for many years. To modify the situation in rural areas, sometimes significant social reformation initiatives are needed. The People’s Science Movements (PSMs)’ contribution to India’s Literacy Mission in the early 1990s deserves special attention. To increase India’s literacy rate, several non-governmental organizations—including Pratham, ITC, Rotary Club, and Club—have been active.