Kerala gears up for second literacy movement

Kerala gears up for second literacy movement

Kerala -- declared the first complete literate state in the country over two decades ago -- is now gearing up for a second mass literacy movement to...

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala -- declared the first complete literate state in the country over two decades ago -- is now gearing up for a second mass literacy movement to eradicate illiteracy totally by covering all left over sections. The southern state had achieved the full literate tag on April 18, 1991 as per the norms of UNESCO, which says attaining literacy by 90 per cent of the population would be considered as complete literate.

Even though the state is known for its high literacy index and low school drop out rate, still 18 lakh people in Kerala are illiterate, revealed the 2011 Census. Under the new drive, the authorities are targeting to achieve 100 per cent literacy covering each and every person in all strata of society, official sources here said. The state-run Kerala State Literacy Mission is launching the programme, under the title "Aksharalaksham", on January 26, the Republic Day, to achieve the goal.

Eradicating illiteracy among marginalised groups like tribals, fisher folks and slum-dwellers would be given thrust in the drive, a top official said. The mission has already completed a ward-level survey as an initial phase of the programme and those identified as illiterates would be started with study classes on the Republic Day, she said. "Our motto is to eradicate illiteracy completely and achieve 100 per cent literacy in the state by all means," Literacy Mission director P S Sreekala told PTI.

There are some technical differences between the complete eradication of illiteracy and achieving total literacy, she said. "As per the UNESCO norms, 90 per cent of the population should be literate to declare a state as complete literate. That's how Kerala was declared so in 1990s. But, the present figures show that there are still a large number of illiterates in the state," she said.

According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate of the state is 94 per cent which was 90.86 per cent in 2001. The "Aksharalaksham" initiative is planned to be implemented in 2,086 wards out of the total 20,000 wards across the state in the initial phase, Sreekala said.

The survey to identify illiterates was carried out under the aegis of respective ward members and 'saksharatha pracharaks' under the Mission, she said adding a total of 44,667 volunteers, of them 37,012 women, had taken part in it. Besides the details of illiterates, those of school dropouts in these wards had also been collected.

"Thousands of people have participated in the survey. We are planning to codify the results and declare it on January 20," she said. Later, classes would be started for them on January 26 at the respective learning centres of the mission in each ward.

A total of 100 hours of instruction is planned and examinations will be held for them in April, she said adding learners from the age of 15 years are the target group. "We hope that we can declare these wards as complete literate by April 18 this year. In the next phase, rest of the wards will be brought under the initiative."

The literacy mission has also started programmes to educate the illiterate migrant population, who come to the state seeking greener pastures. Kerala had become the first state in the country to achieve total primary education last year.

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