After completing 71 years of independence, India is still struggling to catch up with the global average literacy rate. The realms of political parties have risen and fallen since 1947, but the fundamental right for education has been on the backbench since too long now.
No doubt we have had a staggering growth since the 1950s, as per the last census, India's’ average literacy rate is 74%. However, with high levels of disproportionate wealth share, gender gap and rural-urban space, the average more or less acts as a mask for the less privileged Indians.
Our growth in literacy has come along with the age-old gender gap. As per last records, the literacy rates of young adult women(aged 7 to 29 years) is 80%, which is again 22% behind the world average and falls 20% below the male literacy rate.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), released in January 2019 holds the mirror for us, saying 75% of children in grade 3 of government schools aren’t capable of reading or solving basic addition and subtraction.
To quote an economist, Amartya Sen, “extreme forms of poverty will prevail… as long as the overwhelming majority of the Indian people are able neither to read or write”. Nations across history have progressed by investing in quality education.
The current condition calls for our government to dedicatedly work on improving the educational system. Along with schemes like mid-day meals, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, there is pressing the need for revolutionizing the way education is imparted at the lower levels.
A thorough approach that taps into the intellectual of a child and rewards them for their efforts not only for academics but also across the creative spectrum is essential. It is high time we as citizens demand from our governments and politicians to equip the upcoming generations with the right skill set and equal opportunities to access education, our fundamental right.