September 8 is marked across the world as International Literacy Day in a bid to remind people of its importance as a matter of dignity and human rights and to advance the development of a more literate and sustainable society. Adopted by UNESCO in 1966, this day has only become more significant as time passes.
Amid a global pandemic that has forced schools and businesses to stay shut for months on end, the inequalities and challenges have only become sharper. As per the UNESCO website, International Literacy Day 2021 is being celebrated under the theme "Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide".
"A holistic education system is vital for national transformation," emphasised Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. In an attached thread, the Prime Minister also shared details of initiatives undertaken in the field of education by the BJP-led government in the last seven years.
Over the last few hours, Union and Chief Ministers, well known personalities, activists and countless other netizens have taken to social media platforms marking the occasion and calling for change. "Literacy empowers us as a society. This #InternationalLiteracyDay, let us commit to build more literate and skilful societies and ensure continuity of learning by narrowing the digital divide," tweeted Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
As per Census 2011, the literacy rate at all India level is 72.98% and the literacy rate for females and males are 64.63% and 80.9% respectively. During the last decade, the highest improvement in literacy rate was observed among rural females (24%). Keep in mind however that the 2021 Census is yet to be released and there may be some updates and changes in the data over the last decade.
In 2011, among the State/ UTs, the male and female literacy rate is highest in Kerala (male: 96.1%, female 92.1%) and lowest in Bihar (male: 71.2%, female: 51.5%). According to a 2016 government reports quoting the Census and other relevant data, the gap in literacy levels of males and females is highest in Rajasthan and remains below 5% in Meghalaya, Kerala and Mizoram. At the all India level, the adult (15 + years) literacy rate is 69.3% and that among males is 78.8% and females is 59.3%. A rural–urban gap exists in adult literacy rate for both females and males.