Thursday, 28 January 2016

Literacy rate up, but so is illiteracy

Population Rising But Enrollment Not Keeping Pace
The overall literacy rate in the country may have gone up to 74.4%, but the drop in the illiteracy rate has not matched the increase in population. Between 2001 and 2011, the population above the age of 7 grew by 18.65 crore but the decrease in the number of illiterates is just 3.11 crore.
A 2015 Unesco report said that in terms of absolute numbers, India -with 28.7 crore illiterates -was the country with the largest number of adults without basic literacy skills in 2010-11 compared to 2000-01 when it had 30.4 crore illiterates.
The fact that illiteracy is not being tackled is evident from the enrolment rates in primary and upper primary schools. Over 12 years (2000-01 to 2013-14), the number of children who enrolled in primary schools increased by just 1.86 crore, and at the upper primary level by just over 2 crore. The population during this period, however, increased by more than 18 crore.
“Over the past few years, there has been a dip in the enrolment rate across the coun try compared to the growth in population,“ says A S Seetharamu, a former professor of the Institute of Social and Economic Change.
Going by 2011 Census data, most states, barring a few like Nagaland, have recorded an increase in population but the enrolment rate does not mirror that.
The country also seems to be having a problem with retaining people in schools and colleges. An average of 326 out of 1,000 students in rural areas are dropping out, while the same is 383 per 1,000 in urban areas, the National Sample Survey Organisation's (NSSO) last survey reveals.This data counts people up to the age of 29.

Data from various sources clearly shows that India is among the least literate countries in the world, and this reflects on the fact that successive governments have failed to provide basic education to all. India is one of 135 countries in the world to have made education a fundamental right, when the Right to Education Act came into force in 2010, but much of that act has remained on paper and controversies have dogged its implementation. That the literacy rate has been rising steadily since Independence is something to cheer about, but not when viewed in conjunction with the exponential growth in population. It's imperative that the government puts more muscle into implementing programmes for compulsory, free education and ensure equal access to all.

Source::: Jan 28 2016 : The Times of India, p.15,

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