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Ministry of Human Resource Development08-September, 2007 15:53 IST
Women's Literacy and Education has to be made a Priority – President

CHURNING IN THE LITERACY MOVEMENT MUST RESULT IN MASS AWAKENING – HRM

CELEBRATIONS ORGANISED ON INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has said that it is a matter of concern that the male-female gap in literacy rates continues to be unacceptably high. This divide is sharper in rural areas. Women's literacy and education has to be made a priority. She was speaking as the Chief Guest at the celebrations organised on the occasion of International Literacy Day, here, today. She also said, ‘Specific education programmes, with targets, should be launched for education of girls’.

Referring to Millennium Development Goals set in the Summit held in New York in 2000, the President observed, ‘ 2015 is only 8 years away. Globally, there are still 77 million primary school age children who are not enrolled in schools and 771 million adults who do not have basic literary skills. The proportion of women who are not literate is very high. Concerted action will be required if the Millennium Development education targets are to be reached by 2015’.

‘As we enter the 11th Plan period we need to take stock of the literacy rates in the country. We have made tremendous progress in literacy in the last century. In 1901, India had an abysmally low literacy rate of 5.35 percent, at the time of Independence literacy had risen to only 18.33 percent but in 2001, the literacy rate had risen substantially to 64.84 percent. This is considerable progress, but there are still millions in our country without basic literary skills,’ the President added.

The Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Arjun Singh who presided over the function recalled that our Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi set up the National Literacy Mission in 1988 as one of the five technology missions but with one aim, to create a resurgent India with a literate human resource, inclusive society and empowered individuals. He appreciated the fact that though the figures in literacy elude us, the enthusiasm is catching, which is necessary for us to succeed. He mentioned that the challenges before the NLM still remain, he felt that there is urgent need to bridge the gender gap between male and female literacy and bring the disadvantaged sections of society into the fold of literacy. He further added that the churning in the literacy movement must result in mass awakening and the literacy and life long learning must take on the character of a mass movement which can whip up excitement, enthuse people, raise people’s aspirations and make the programme community owned.

As a result of new initiatives of the Ministry, most of the districts would transit to the Continuing Education (CE) phase in 11th Plan. The new focus of NLM would be three-fold - (i) A conscious encouragement of the multiple approaches to residual illiteracy eradication and approaches found suitable in different contexts; (ii) the plan to position in place of the existing CE Programme, a more broad-based Lifelong Education and (iii) Awareness Programme (LEAP), which would integrate the current sequential Total Literacy Campaign (TLC), Post Literacy Programme (PLP) and CE into a lifelong learning continuum and also offer diverse learning programmes, including functional skills, quality of life improvement, vocational skills and equivalency programmes for the neo-literates, school dropouts, pass outs, youth and others interested in the community; and combining literacy and lifelong learning with rights, governance and livelihoods, decentralisation and community involvement.

The Satyen Maitra Literacy awards named after Satyen Maitra the doyen of adult literacy and carrying the prize of a trophy and certificate were given to Dantewada (Chhattisgarh) for Total Literacy campaign, Lohardagga (Jharkhand) for post literacy campaign and and Chittorgarh (Rajasthan), Kasargod (Kerala) and Uttara Kannada (Karnataka)) for Continuing Education Programme.

The UNESCO NLM awards for the best Jan Shikshan Sansthans went to JSS Nasik and JSS Chandigarh and for the best State Resource Centre went to SRC Deepayatan Bihar. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 and a certificate.

The five awardees of the National Photo Competition organized by NLM on the themes of literacy for women, literacy and development, literacy through self help groups, literacy through vocational education, literacy for national integration, literacy for social awareness, received the award from the President. The theme for the International Literacy Day this year is - literacy is the key to good health and well being.

Ministers of State, Sh. Mohd AA Fatmi and Ms. D Purandeswari also graced the function. The Director and UNESCO representative, Ms. Minja Yang was also present. The function was attended in large number by volunteers and learners of Adult Education Programme, school children, senior officials of the Government of India, diplomats and representatives of international organizations and NGOs.

Groups of performing artists from the States of Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana presented a mosaic of colourful cultural programme.

HB/SB/ild
(Release ID :31093)

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