CHENNAI: As the issue of children’s education holds centrestage, a much-lower profile government programme is quietly making an impact on addressing the issue of adult illiteracy, a trouble spot that comes with its own set of challenges.
The Saakshar Bharat scheme, kick-started by the State Literacy Mission in 2009 to improve the literacy rate of the districts where female literacy is less than 50 pc, has managed to impart basic education to as much as four-fifths of the identified population, say officials in charge of the programme.
Figures from the Directorate of Non-Formal and Adult Education reveal that within five years, the scheme has succeeded in educating almost 18.50 lakh adults from over 22 lakh adults identified in the 2001 Census.
In Tamil Nadu, nine districts - Dharmapuri, Salem, Erode, Perambalur, Villupuram, Ariyalur, Thiruvannamalai, Tirupur and Krishnagiri - were identified under the Saakshar Bharat scheme. Basic literacy and vocational training are being given since then, after which the students take up basic literacy assessment tests. Those who emerge successful are certified by the National Institute of Open Schooling. As of August this year, 18,45,777 persons from these districts have been certified literate.
“Students from Tamil Nadu, especially women, show a great deal of enthusiasm to take up these tests. The State has shown consistent performance when it comes to adults taking up the test organised by the NIOS,” said Ravi P, regional director, NIOS - Regional Centre (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry).
As the statistics show, Tirupur and Krishnagiri, from where students attempted the NIOS test for the first time in August this year, have each registered 78.5 per cent and 75 per cent pass, respectively.
Going at this rate, the State would be able to achieve the target before the stipulated time in 2017, feels S Sukanya, joint director, non-formal and adult education. “As per the number of illiterates identified in 2009, going by the figures in 2001 Census, we are making good progress and 83.6 per cent of them have been certified literate by the NIOS. After we achieve this, we will identify the illiterates from the 2011 Census and work on them,” she added.