April 13, 2015

Fighting illiteracy – India’s Social Evil


As of 2011 census, India’s literacy rate stands just 1 point below distinction at 74% compared to the world literacy rate at 84%. With the largest illiterate population globally, India’s literacy rate is known to grow at a very sluggish rate. Thanks to the orthodox mentality and poverty that prevails in most of India; the opportunity to learn and carve a better future is robbed from the hands of many.

What is the impact like?

I personally believe Illiteracy is one of India’s biggest social evils having a large impact on the progress of the country. Patriarchal way of thinking, ZERO Education on sex, gender, family planning/population stabilization, lower quality jobs/unemployment and so on are a few of the key impacts associated with illiteracy.

Apart from poverty, an additional deterrent in our education system is – The sheer lack of proper educational facilities. While providing education should be leveraged with much ease; it doesn’t seem to be happening in India. Setting up even basic municipality schools is a tedious task with corruption playing the major spoilsport. No teaching staff, or inefficient staff, shortage of schools, low levels of sanitation, scanty modes of transport etc. aid the complication. On a similar note, 43% of teaching slots in IIT are lying unfilled. IIT being the most renowned hub of scholars in India, The condition is appalling indeed. (Talk about that super tough entrance exam that the champs need to crack to get into the IITs and then they have no proper teaching staff.)

Fighting illiteracy – a bright example:

And then I came across a very unique concept the other day – The Varanasi Boat School. Sounds weird isn’t it? I mean it’s literally a school on a boat. Tata Capital and #DoRight is covering this unique concept on their website. Seeing a large number of children wandering aimlessly on the holy streets of Varanasi, and forcibly working for random tasks; Ajeet Singh started of this unique concept.

The Varanasi Boat School – is a kind of a medium where children who cannot afford proper education spend a few hours each day to learn/study/revise and play. With the boat representing a school building, it is currently equipped with 1 or 2  laptops, books, pens & pencils, educational posters, slates and of course smiling children.

Image Source: Manorama News
Varanasi Boat School - Ajeet Singh
 Of course this model needs a magical transformation to enhance the quality and provide a better learning environment to the children and that’s where Tata Capital is urging everyone to take the Journey of Doing Right. With a before and after video coverage, Do Right’s #ScholarShip project is raising funds to enhance the Varanasi Boat School. As of today – 12th April, #ScholarShip has received over 35K as funds and is still looking to cover the rest 60K.

Every contribution will ultimately counts in India’s success and give these children the kind of ideal learning environment they deserve.

What other states can learn?

Providing basic education doesn’t need much capital. A vision, plan and proper implementation will definitely lead to success as seen in the example above. Here’s how few other states battled illiteracy by various means and one vision:

  • ·         Tripura – The government ran a special literacy drive for people between the age 15-50 (in other words, people who lost the chance of entering any sort of formal education) which gave basic education. With over 10000 aanganwadis having 100% enrollment – Tripura success story saw a superb collaboration between the government, Gram Panchayats and NGOs
  • ·         Kerala – The secret of Kerala’s highest literacy rate is the fact that the population has access to a primary school within 1-2km and an upper primary school within 3-8 km. To aid the travel for students, transport fares are pretty subsidized all over the state.
  • ·         Mizoram – The government identified a sect of illiterates and organized a structure where officials/community leaders were responsible for teaching five illiterates each. This gave a mutual interest for the people. To aid the project, 360 continued education centers were opened up to support the initial mode of teaching.

In a news article dated July 2013, “India will see 80% literacy rate by 2015” quoted India’s then HRD Minister. Well apart from supporting more projects like #ScholarShip, how else do you think we can fight illiteracy?

Share your views.

Stats & Figures from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_in_India


  1. Nice post. We shall all try and teach & spread awareness among kids that how and why education is important.

  2. Thank you Stuti. Sure do spread the awareness.


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