Recast literacy programme to focus on women`s education
New Delhi: Literate India -- a recast
literacy programme under the National Literacy Mission
Authority -- will be launched next month in 365 districts
across the country with a special focus on educating women and
improving India`s female literacy level.
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said
the government has decided to "tweak" the NLMA to focus on
women and the mission will be launched in these districts
where female literacy levels are below 50 per cent.
"We are structurally changing the mission and adopting
entire new strategies. We have decided to implement the new
scheme with the help of Panchayati Raj institutions. We aim to
bring the country`s literacy level to 80 per cent by 2017," he
told reporters after the 11th meeting of the NLMA council.
Sibal said the definition of literacy, which was so
far just self-reliance in reading, writing and arithmetic,
will be redefined and people will be taught to acquire skills
to improve their economic status and general well-being.
The minister said there is a 21 per cent gap which is
"wide" between the literacy levels of men and women and seven
states alone account for 70 per cent of illiterate people in
Sibal however, refused to name the states saying "I
don`t want to make headlines". According to 2001 census the
states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,
Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharastra.
While the national literacy level is 64 per cent, male
literacy level is 75 per cent and the female literacy level is
54 per cent.
"This is a wide gap. We will have to bridge this gap.
Also, the literacy level among SC/ST women and minorities are
less than the average. There is the urban-rural divide. All
these should be taken into account," Sibal said.
He said committees at district, block and panchayat
levels will be set up to monitor the implementation of the
Under the mission, the government aims to educate 70
million adults, out of which 60 million will be women. Sibal
said under the XIth Five Year plan, the mission has been
allocated Rs 6,000 crore, while the NLAM had spent Rs 2,800
crore since its inception in 1988.
Admitting that many of the objectives of the NLMA have
not been achieved, Sibal said under the restructured mission
panchayati raj institutions will be roped in to implement the
He said there will be no age bar to participate in the
programme and the Continuing Education Programme will be
specially designed to sustain literate levels gained through
activities that encourage the use and development of literacy
"We will be hiring trainers from the areas concerned.
There are lot of unemployed educated youth in the country and
their services will be taken. We will also try to give them
incentives at a later stage based on the outcome," Sibal said.
The HRD Minister said funds will be routed through the
states and encourage larger interaction between the states
and Centre on the issues related to the mission.
He also said the government can build on with the
mission and even synergise it with other programmes such as
About the existing mission, Sibal said there were some
shortcomings such as it could not move forward and there was
lack of proper cooperation between the states and the Centre.
"Under the new mission, states will set up state level
authorities. Funds will be routed through the states and we
will have a mechanism to check its spending so that there is
no misuse of funds and shortage also," he said.
The Minister said the new programme will have
efficient delivery systems. Asked whether students can join it
to educate the masses, he said: "Why not? If they are in a
position to do it we will accept them. It can be part of their
Sibal also parried a question on Gujarat government
banning Jaswant Singh`s book on Jinnah, saying "I am talking
about educating people not books," he said.
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