Social Domain - Education





1990 was declared as the ‘International Year of Literacy’. Literacy and level of education are basic indicators of the level of development achieved by a society. The spread of literacy is generally associated with important traits of modern civilization such as modernization, urbanization, industrialization, communication and commerce. Literacy forms an important input in the overall development of individuals enabling them to comprehend their social, political and cultural environment better and respond to it appropriately. Higher levels of education and literacy lead to greater awareness and also contributes to the improvement of economic and social conditions. It acts as a catalyst for social upliftment enhancing the returns on investment made in almost every aspect of development effort, be it population control, health, hygiene, environmental degradation control, employment of weaker sections of the society.

According to the Census 2001, as many as 560,687,797 persons in the country are literate. Of these 336,533,716 are males and 224, 154,081 are females. While the overall literacy rate works out to be 64.8 %, the male literacy rate is 75.3% and that for females is 53.7%, showing a gap of 21.6 percentage points between the sexes at the national level. The gap is more in rural areas. In the urban areas, the higher literacy rate has been recorded both for males and females and the difference among the sexes is lower (13 percentage points ). Kerala, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Goa and Chandigarh occupy the top five positions in literacy while Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Bihar, are at the bottom.

The literacy rates for the rural population are the highest in Kerala, followed by Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Goa, and Delhi. Fourteen (14) States / Uts have recorded less than 60 per cent rural Literacy rate. The State Government resolved to make Kerala a state with 100% literacy, in the international year of literacy. Accordingly, Kerala became the first state in India to become a state with 100% literacy.

The campaign of literacy in Kerala included training of reading, writing, mathematical skills, the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, vaccination of children, co-operative agriculture and the importance of saving money. During the campaign for literacy, some additional problems were observed. Many senior citizens who participated in the campaign had eyesight related problems, which were unattended before. Many of the unskilled labourers could not afford the medical eye examination and cost of spectacles. In order to help them, free medical camps for eye examination and distribution of spectacles were arranged. Then people could easily attend the literacy classes. This is an example of a problem solved with the combined will power of the government and people. The first district in Kerala to become completely literate was Ernakulum. Announcement to this effect was made on 4th February 1990.

Primary Education

In 1994, the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was started aiming at providing access to primary education to all. This programme was implemented in seven states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Haryana and Assam. This programme was aimed at achieving a hundred per cent registration and attendance of children in primary schools and bringing down the number of drop-outs. This programme was financially supported by the World Bank.

1) Mid Day Meal (Shaley Poshan Ahar):

This programme was implemented from 15th August 1995, to provide mid-day meals to children in primary schools. Wherever facilities to cook the food in school was not available, food-grains were distributed to each child.

2) Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – SSA:

“Let’s all learn, Let’s all progress” was the motto of this programme. With this motto, the programme was launched in 2001. The right of free education was granted to children in the age group of 6-14 vide the ‘86th Amendment to the Constitution of India’. The main objective of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ was to eliminate the disproportion in access to primary education. Earlier programmes like ‘Khadu-Phala Yojana’, ‘Mid Day Meal’ were combined with this programme to make it successful. This programme gave special attention to the education of girls and children with special needs (Diyang).

To achieve universalisation of education in India, ‘EDUSAT’ (GSAT-3)’, a satellite was launched in 2004. For the purpose of reaching out to children all over the country six communication zones and accordingly six channels were created. This programme facilitated distance education in regional language in all parts of the country.

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