Agartala: India's northeastern state of Tripura, which has already achieved the first position in literacy in the country with 95.16 percent, is likely to achieve 100 percent literacy in six months, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said Monday.
"Tripura attained the first position in literacy in India with 95.16 percent last year. We have launched all-out efforts to make literate the remaining people with Class 3 standards by March 2015," Sarkar said here on the occasion of International Literacy Day.
"Tripura jumped to the first position in literacy among the states from the 12th position in the 2001 census and the fourth position in the 2011 census," he said.
While Mizoram and Tripura are among the toppers in literacy in India, another northeastern state, Arunachal Pradesh (66.95 percent), is placed second lowest in literacy in the country, just above Bihar, which recorded the least literacy of 63.82 percent. Kerala follows Tripura with 94 percent literacy.
Sarkar said that after Tripura attained 87.75 percent literacy in 2011, a government survey was conducted by the eight district magistrates in August 2012 which found that only 131,634 people of the state's 37 lakh people, including those aged 50 and above, were illiterate.
"Over 8,254 voluntary literacy workers (VLW) have worked tremendously with full dedication under 8,152 literacy centres to make the leftover (131,634 people) unlettered people literate," the chief minister said.
Over 85 master trainers have supervised the work of the VLWs, who have worked at the village and habitation levels.
Anganwadi workers under the social welfare department have also assisted the VLWs in their endeavour.
"The final evaluation of the neo-literate people was conducted across the state in August last year under the supervision of the (Kolkata-based) Indian Statistical Institution (ISI) and (Noida-based) National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)," the chief minister said.
Both the ISI and the NIOS are national institutes recognised by the National Literacy Mission, under the union human resource development ministry.
Sarkar said the Left Front government has concurrently taken up a literacy programme and a job-oriented occupational training programme for the neo-literate so that they can become self-reliant.
"To build up sustainable livelihood, the state government is also considering providing financial, technical and logistical support to those who complete the literacy course and skill development training," he said.
"Much before the UN proclaimed the 'literacy and sustainable development' scheme a few years back, the Left Front government in Tripura took the scheme with all sincerity," Sarkar said.
According to the 2011 census, the literacy level is 94 percent in Kerala, 91.58 percent in Mizoram and 88.7 percent in Goa, among the most literate states in India.
The national literacy rate, according to the 2011 census, is 74.04 percent.
Tripura's Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Bhanulal Saha said the state government has just not tried to make people literate, it has undertaken specific plans to improve the functional literacy of the neo-literate.
The Tripura success story is attributed to the involvement of local government bodies, including gram panchayats, NGOs and local clubs under the close supervision of the State Literacy Mission Authority headed by the chief minister.
Former census director Dilip Acherjee, who has also held the post of school education department secretary in Tripura, told IANS: "In Tripura, increase of female literacy is better than their male counterparts."
"The literacy rate of females during the period of 2001 and 2011 census rose from 64.91 to 83.15 percent, with an increase of 18.24 percent, while in the case of men the increase was just 11.18 percent -- from 81 to 92.18 percent," Acherjee said.