Literacy for India's poor

CNC
Added On September 14, 2016

As the world celebrated the International Literacy Day last week, CNC went to India to take a look at the children's literacy scenario of the country.
 
Here's the report on those at the bottom of the education ladder- the poor cope with the demand of education.
 
 
Based on the 2011 census, the literacy rate in India is 75 percent. It is an almost 10 percent jump from a decade back.
 
However, the rate is lower in rural areas at about 68 percent, while about 84 percent in urban areas.
 
The gap can be attributed to the lack of adequate schooling infrastructure in rural areas. Many of India's rural areas are not very well connected with the mainstream. And children have to walk many kilometers to reach the school.
 
Still, there has been a marked improvement in terms of enrollment rates in government schools
 
SOUNDBITE: MADHAV CHAVAN, India's Leading Education Activist & Co-Founder Pratham
"The enrollment rates in schools have been rising. We have been measuring the enrollment rate of children in schools starting in 2005. In 2005, we found that around the country, in the rural areas, the numbers were slightly higher in urban areas, we had not measured them but  the numbers were already above 92 to 93 percent in 2005 and hat number for children aged 10-14 has gone above 96 percent in the last 10-11 years."
 
Literacy in India remains a challenge of first generation learners. These are mostly children from economically weaker sections of society whose parents are indulged in manual jobs like labourers electricians, rickshaw pullers and so on.
 
Many of them have migrated from villages to the city in search for a better livelihood. Even though they send their children to government schools, due to economic pressures, education of children is not a priority. Many children drop out because of family economic pressures.
 
Many civil society organizations and individuals in India take up initiatives to supplement the learning efforts of these poor children in India. 
 
Rani Patel is the founder of Aarohan, an organization in Indian capital Delhi that provides free tuitions to children from nearby slums, and also helps them in their entire career trajectory including school enrollment.
 
SOUNDBITE: RANI PATEL, Founder of Aarohan
"We bring those children to our centre. We teach them.  We have a system. Our teachers, as per their standards, their knowledge of education, they segregate them. And our volunteers who are coming from different walks of life – different colleges, different institutions like B schools, Delhi University and different universities. When they come and they make these children realize the importance of their education in society and these children, they feel yes, they are also important, and the transition begins from there."
 
SOUNDBITE: ANAM, Student
"I think I can go really ahead with my learning of computer. I want to know all about the computer, everything about how it works. I have a whole future ahead. So once I finish with these classes, I'll think of what further courses to take."
 
SOUNDBITE: KIRTI, Student
"I got to know about this because I was searching net. And I got to here from people that it's a good ngo and the teachers, they teach very well. And they don't take fees also. So I was excited to come here and meet the people that how are the children here. And I come from Gupta colony."
 
India in 2009 enacted "the Right to Education Act", guarantees free and compulsory education to all Indian children between 6 and 14 years of age. It also makes provisions for admission of poor children to private schools. 
 
SOUNDBITE: RATI AGNIHORI, CNC Correspondent 
"Public consciousness regarding the need for education, the importance of education has increased in India over years. Enrollment rates in government schools have increased too. However the contentious issue here that needs to be addressed is how to redefine literacy within a fast paced changing social environment in India and how to make sure that first generation learners in India whose parents are illiterate or semi-literate get an environment wherein their learning skills can be enabled."