India has largest number of non-literates: Ansari

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 12, 2012 18:04 hrs

Lucknow, Sept 8 (IBNS) Vice President Hamid Ansari on Saturday said India has the largest number of non-literates in the world.

He was speaking after conferring "National Literacy Awards" at a function to mark International Literacy Day- 2012 organised by the National Literacy Mission Authority in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday.

"We have the largest number of non-literates in the world. Our literacy rate of 74 percent, achieved in the last decade, is much below the world average of 84 per cent and is in sharp contrast to what has been achieved by some Asian countries like China, Iran, Myanmar and Sri Lanka," said Ansari.

"We console ourselves with the fact that our national literacy rate at the time of independence was a little over 12 percent and that significant progress has been made since with the literacy rate going up to 52 in 1991, 65 in 2001 and 74 in 2011. It is also evident that the vast treasures of knowledge dispensed by our sages and scholars down the ages emanated from a very narrow base in numerical terms," he said.

Ansari said there is uneven progress of literacy promotion in the country.

"The paradox is that within our own country, uneven progress in the promotion of literacy has been made and wide disparities are noticeable. Thus Kerala has almost 100 percent literacy. Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram have made remarkable progress.

"On the other hand, some other states record well below the national average. When this is viewed in conjunction with other social indicators like infant mortality and life expectancy, the linkage between literacy and quality of life become evident," he said.

Ansari said literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means of social and economic development.

He opined that the Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and Minorities together constitute 44 per cent of the population.

"The rationale of this emphasis is evident. Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and Minorities together constitute 44 per cent of our population. The socio-economic development of women largely depends upon their literacy level. Literacy of women thus plays a critical role in their empowerment," he said.

"The Saakshar Bharat programme, therefore, gives special emphasis on women literacy. It is to be noted that while the male literacy rate has increased from 75 to 82.14 per cent during the last decade, the female literacy rate in the same period has increased from 53.67 to 65.46 percent. This has reduced the gender gap from 21 to 16 percent," said Ansari.

Applauding the efforts the 'Saakshar Bharat programme', he said that this programme is being implemented in 372 out of 410 eligible districts spread across 25 states and one Union Territory.

The Vice President said that development of Adult Education in India depends upon the adaptability of the literacy mission to the emerging changes in all segments of the economy.

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