New initiative for female literacy

New initiative for female literacy

Prime Minister launches Saakshar Bharat to mark International Literacy Day

New initiative for female literacy

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, and MoS Purandeswari Devi (L) at the launch of ‘Saakshar Bharat’ on International Literacy Day in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

The prime minister, launching a Rs 6.5-crore-literacy mission titled “Saakshar Bharat” to mark International Literacy Day, said one-third of India’s population continued to be illiterate. About half of India’s women could not read or write. But this would change in five years.  “Many observers have seen infrastructure development in the economic sector and female literacy in the social sector as two very critical factors that impede India’s steady climb to a higher and sustainable level of growth and development,” Singh said.

Female literacy is also absolutely necessary to empower the Indian woman in her every day struggle in dealing with multiple deprivations on the basis of class, caste and gender.

“The President of India, in her address to Parliament earlier this year, had announced that the government will recast the National Literacy Mission to make every woman literate in the next five years. Today we take the first step towards fulfiling that promise to our people,” Singh said.

The number of illiterates in India would probably be the highest in the world. Persistent illiteracy—particularly among women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities and other disadvantaged groups—was a “challenge that we must face and meet head on,” he said. “Resources will not stand in the way of providing quality education to all.”

 The  prime minister said a national mission for the empowerment of women would also be set up.  "Today, as a result of our efforts in the last five years, elementary education is now within the reach of all children in our country. We have increased enrolment and significantly reduced drop-out rate," he said, referring to the recent Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act.

The Cabinet has already decided to amend the Constitution to provide 50 per cent reservation to women in panchayats and local bodies. A self-help group movement will be expanded by revitalising the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, he said.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said Panchayati Raj institutions would be the fulcrum of the adult literacy programme. The programme would be planned and implemented by the community and panchayats at the grassroots level. All management and supervisory structures, right from the national up to the village level, would be instituted accordingly.