India is one of the backward countries in many respects but particularly in literacy. Hardly 45% of the people in India are literate. Illiteracy is very common among the rural population, especially the women folk This sad state of affairs prevails in spite of the fact that ever since independence several efforts have been made to reduce the extent of illiteracy in the country.
None can deny that ignorance and poverty go together. Wide-spread illiteracy has been the main obstacle in the path of our social and economic development. The Kothari Education Commission recommended a programme of compulsory national service to promote adult education. The students of colleges and universities can easily lend their helping hand in liquidating illiteracy in the urban as well as rural areas.
The Janta Government declared a fresh policy in Adult-Education in the country. In a determined bid to banish illiteracy, the Government launched a massive programme of Adult Education on a level never attempted before anywhere in the world on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 1978.
The programme was inaugurated by the Vice President. Mr Jatt. He called upon all the educated people to adopt the system of continuing education as it was practised in ancient India, Their motto should be “Each one, teach one.” In other words, each educated man should make at least one uneducated person literate and thus give Vidhya dan.
The National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) is different fro all other previous programmes started to liquidate illiteracy amor adults. The past efforts to banish illiteracy lacked devotion, strong faith and, above all, people’s participation.
The present Programme has all these advantages. Besides, it aims at not only teaching the 3 R’s to be illiterate but also linking education to the social and economic needs of the learners. in addition to this, it aims at inculcating in the minds of adults a social and moral sense.
The National Adult-Education Programme is calculated to give priority to rural women, backward classes
But the year-wise phasing of the targets has been fixed for five years. It is estimated that 50 million adults will be made literate during this period. But it is regrettable to note that the achievement has fallen short of the fixed target.
Learning material has been prepared in all regional languages. The audio-visual aids like film shows, television, magic lantern, etc. are also being pressed into service in order to attract the illiterate masses.
Arrangements have also been made for the training of social and literacy drive workers. There is also provision for follow-up action. The Govt. of India has earmarked crores of rupees for this purpose.
While it is the State Governments which have been made primarily responsible for the implementation of the programme, the Central Government has invited teachers, students, voluntary agencies and all others who are interested in the welfare of the country to take part in it. The teachers are really the ‘king-pins’ of the Programme.
The success of the Programme depends, however, not only on the dedication of the people handling it but also on the enthusiasm of the learners. The crux of the problem lies in motivating the vast illiterate masses.
For this purpose personal contacts with the uneducated people agricultural labourers, industrial workers, rural folk, especially women shall have to be developed. If the public and the workers co-operate honestly and enthusiastically the curse of illiteracy can be removed from the face of Mother India.