Public Policy · Society

A Slow and Steady Climb


Education has remained a very important subject in India. To start on with this topic, I would like to share a small experience of mine. In a class of approx. 35 students, the teacher asked what the current female literacy rate of India was. A girl guessed around 63-64%. To her surprise, the class erupted in laughter. Another girl volunteered with 40%. The teacher nodded and then said to the first girl that India had never seen a 60% female literacy rate. Turns out, as you might have guessed that the first girl was right with her speculation.

The point of the above anecdote is very simple. India is not as backward as the very people of the country think it is. With bad and negative news being broadcast on every single news channel and newspaper, our thoughts and views are also shaping out to be the same. Yes, we have a long way to go before calling ourselves economically and socially developed but this does not negate the fact that we are developing.

Lets go back in time and check if in fact, literacy rates have improved, and if so, what has been the rate of growth. Indian states like Kerala had 47.18% literacy rate in 1951 and in 2011, it outdid itself a 93.91%. Where in 1961 Tripura on the other hand had only 20.24%, in 2013 it beat Kerala with a whopping 94.65%. When interviewed, a literacy mission official said, “We intended to declare Tripura as total literate state on this auspicious occasion, but could not as some people, specially elderly persons are yet to be reached”.

To come to a more bleak situation, Bihar had 13.49% as its literacy rate in 1951. But the % has only improved and the rate of improvement has been better in the recent years. Till 2001, the rate was a mere 5-10%, but in a span of the last ten years, Bihar managed to pull a 63.82% with the rate of improvement being 15-16%.
Over all picture of India’s literacy rate in 2011 shows 74.04% in compared to 1951 showing 18.33%.

Today, no one can deny the importance of education. Approximately speaking, every second non-government organization one comes across, it is somehow related to education. This very fact shows that the citizens are well aware of what is right, and some of them are trying to give the country what it needs, that is a well educated and well informed population. By no means does education solve all the problems. Filthy rich and literate people indulge in all sorts of crimes like murder, rape, corruption. This tells us that education can only help to a certain limit, beyond that, the mindset, one’s own socialization and one’s family background determine one’s thought process.

As Carl Rogers, a famous American psychologist had said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change”.

About the Author

unnamedSonal Daftuar

She is currently pursuing her honours degree in Sociology from Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi. Her professional goal is to be a social worker, endeavoring to bring as many positive changes as possible. She has volunteered and interned with organizations like Centre for Social Research, The Tehelka Foundation and Bhumi NGO. 

It’s her firm belief that change could only come if every individual did his or her own part for the country and the world, be it a small contribution or big. Even a little effort can alter someone’s life for the better. Currently, she is working as the Research Associate for Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.

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