United Nations had designated September 8 as “International Literacy Day.” This year the day holds even more significance than usual. Amid the COVID 19 crisis, the mode of learning has transformed into virtual classrooms. The whole teaching experience has been severely affected. Keeping this in mind, the theme of International Literacy Day 2020 is “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID 19 crisis and beyond.”
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With 96.2 percent literacy, Kerala has again maintained its top position as the most literate state, as per the studies by National Statistical Office (NSO). Delhi follows it with 88.7 percent and Uttrakhand with 87.6 percent. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh is the worst performer with a literacy rate of 66.4 percent. The second bottom state is Rajasthan, with 69.7 percent. Other countries with low literacy rates include Bihar, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
The overall literacy rate in India is about 77.7 percent, according to NSO reports. Urban areas showed an 87.7 percent rate, while the rural areas are at 73.5 percent. At the national level, the female literacy rate is lower at 70.3 percent than 84.7 percent among men. Even in the bottom-most states, the gap between male and female literacy rate is considerable. In Andhra Pradesh, the male literacy rate is 73.4 percent, while the female literacy rate stands at 59.5 percent.
For India, the road to 100 percent literacy is still a distant dream.
Take a look at some other exciting figures which are relevant in the current environment. In the times when face-to-face learning has been shifted virtually, computers and the internet have become an utmost priority. The reports have revealed that nearly 24 percent of people between the ages of 15-29 in rural areas can operate computers. The proportions are almost 56 percent in urban areas.
The Ministry of Education has promised to work had on its official twitter handle. It has also talked about bring reforms via the New Education Policy.
Why is International Literacy Day celebrated?
At the UNESCO’s general conference in 1966, the first-ever International Literacy Day was announced. Since then, September 8 has been proclaimed as International Literacy Day. The day recognizes the need for literacy to individuals and societies around the world. The aim is to direct the policymakers towards literacy concerns and problems.
Over the years, the UN has assigned unique themes to this day, keeping in line with the ongoing situations. To name a few, ‘Literacy and Health,’ ‘Literacy and Peace,’ and ‘Literacy and Empowerment.’ In 2020, the world has been shut down since the beginning of the contagion. All the activities have been moved online, even the leaning process. So focusing on “the role of educators and changing pedagogies,” the UN came up with this year’s theme- “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID 19 crisis and beyond.”
Education has always been on the mind of the international organization. This is why the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promote universal access to quality education. The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by its member states in 2015, advances equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities.
Education and Literacy are not the same.
People usually talk about education as if it is synonymous with literacy. It is a general misconception. There lies a difference between being educated and being literate.
UNESCO defines literacy as the “ability to read, write, understand, and communicate.” As per India’s census, any person above the age of seven who can read and write with understanding in any language is termed as a literate person.
Whereas education is a systematic process of acquiring skills, knowledge, and values for overall development. It facilitates learning, receiving, and developing powers of judgment and reasoning.
The concept of literacy is concerned with the art of reading and writing—a means to achieve knowledge. At the same time, education takes the person in the right direction. It can be put like this- literacy is the means, and education is the end.