Illiteracy in Rajasthan | Rajasthan is the largest state in India and is home to 5.6% of its population. The State has a very important contribution to the national statistics like of health, education etc. It has a Human Development Index score of 0.434 in comparison to national score of 0.647. The state has been categorised as performer in SDG India Index of NITI Aayog with score of 57. However, when it comes to Literacy, Rajasthan is one of the worst performing states in India.
In 2017-18, as part of the 75th round of National Sample Survey (NSS), the National Statistical Office (NSO) conducted a nationwide study on ‘Household Social Consumption: Education in India. As per this Report, Rajasthan is one the worst performing state in India with overall 69.7% literacy rate. Further, Female Illiteracy is highest in Rajasthan with only 57.6% of its female population being literate.
Throughout most of history most people have been illiterate. In feudal society, for example, the ability to read and write was of value only to the clergy and aristocracy. The first known reference to literate laymen did not appear until the end of the 14th century.
Illiteracy was not seen as a problem until after the invention of printing in the 15th century. The first significant decline in illiteracy came with the Reformation, when translation of the Bible into the vernacular became widespread and Protestant converts were taught to read it.
Revolutionary political movements from the 18th to the 20th century generally included an attack on illiteracy as one of their goals, with the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba being among the most successful in the 20th century.
What is Illiteracy?
UNESCO (ILY: Year of Opportunity) defines a literate person as ‘one who with understanding can both read and write a short simple statement on his or her everyday life’.
According to the 2011 Census, any person aged seven and above, who has the ability to read and write a simple message with understanding at least in any one language, is considered as a literate person.
Types of Illiteracy
Basically illiteracy can have n – number of types depending upon context. Few of them are:
This is the most specific form of illiteracy as it is the one most of us know exists: the inability to read or write. This means being unable to take in written information, from a fiction book to a menu to a business flyer or an instruction manual. This is a form of illiteracy that plagues many people, even those from otherwise successful and educated backgrounds.
This means struggle to understand money management, and that money is often the leading cause of poverty, inequality, and dissatisfaction in life. Those who lack financial literacy are often on a one-way road to poverty.
It means not having the skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is increasingly through digital technologies like internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices.
There are many others like environmental illiteracy, cultural illiteracy etc.
State of Literacy in India
As per the 2011 Census, the average literacy rate in India stood at 74.04%. While Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India at 93.91%, Bihar had the least literacy rate in India of 63.82%.
More recently, the National Statistical Office (NSO) conducted a nationwide study on ‘Household Social Consumption: Education in India as part of the 75th round of National Sample Survey (NSS). As per this report, India’s average literacy rate stands at 77.7% with 84.7% male literacy and 70.3% female literacy. While Kerala had again the highest literacy rate in India at 96.2%, Andhra Pradesh had the least literacy rate at 66.4%.
Illiteracy in Rajasthan
In the same 75th round National Sample Survey (NSS) – Rajasthan came at 2nd place from bottom, just above Andhra Pradesh with an overall literacy rate of 69.7%. While, the male literacy rate in the state is 80.8%, the state had the lowest female literacy rate at 57.6%.
Earlier, as per 2011 Census, the total literacy rate was 66.11%, of which male literacy was 79.19% and female literacy rate was 52.12%, which was also much lower than the national average of 77% ( male: 84% | female: 70% ). According to World Bank, Rajasthan’s female literacy rate is worse than the average for the Arab world and “fragile and conflict-affected” countries.
|75th – NSS
Rural vs Urban
|District with Highest Literacy Rate (Census 2011)
|District with Lowes Literacy Rate (Census 2011)
Causes of illiteracy in Rajasthan
Low Literacy in individuals stems from different, generally inter-related causes which, together, create a series of often insurmountable barriers for those concerned. Some of the causes of adult illiteracy in Rajasthan are:
- Undiagnosed learning disabilities
- Hearing or vision loss
- Lack of a role model, i.e. no one in the family or household stresses reading or education
- Poverty or a focus on survival needs rather than education
- Violence in the community or fear of violence, causing a student to miss large amounts of school
- Moving from one school to another throughout childhood, so that education didn’t make sense and didn’t fit together
- Leaving school at a young age to care for a sick or dying family member
- Leaving school at a young age to provide income for the family
- Being a foreigner and needing to learn English as a second language
- Geographical difficulties.
Why illiteracy in Rajasthan is a concern?
- Limited ability to obtain and understand essential information;
- Unemployment: The unemployment rate is 2–4 times higher among those with little schooling than among those with Bachelor’s degrees;
- Lower income;
- Lower-quality jobs;
- Reduced access to lifelong learning and professional development;
- Precarious financial position;
- Little value is given to education and reading within the family, and this often leads to intergenerational transmission of illiteracy;
- Low self-esteem, which can lead to isolation;
- Impact on health: Illiterate individuals have more workplace accidents, take longer to recover and more often misuse medication through ignorance of health care resources and because they have trouble reading and understanding the relevant information (warnings, dosage, contraindications, etc.).
- Since literacy is an essential tool for individuals and states to be competitive in the new global knowledge economy, many positions remain vacant for lack of personnel adequately trained to hold them;
- The higher the proportion of adults with low literacy proficiency is, the slower the overall long-term GDP growth rate is;
- The difficulty understanding societal issues lowers the level of community involvement and civic participation.
Without the basic tools necessary for achieving their goals, individuals without an adequate level of literacy cannot be involved fully and on a completely equal basis in social and political discourse.
What is being done?
- Article 21 (A) of the Constitution of India was amended to provide free and compulsory education as a fundamental right to all children aged between 6-14 years.
- Education of Weaker Sections: Article 15, 17, and 46 of the Indian Constitution safeguard the educational interests of weaker sections of the society.
Steps taken by State government
- The government conducts various scholarship examinations and provides school uniform, textbooks and stationery in order to encourage students and adults to take up studying.
- The Mid Day Meal Scheme was launched by the government in 1995 to provide students free food grain so as to improve enrolment, attendance, and retention in government schools.
- Samagra Shiksha Programme was launched by the government with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness. This will be measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes.
- Awareness campaigns were launched in rural areas to create awareness among people about the importance of education. They were encouraged to attend or send their children to schools.
- Rajasthan has signed understandings with the Tata Trusts (an Indian trust) and Khan Academy (a global nonprofit) to improve learning levels of students in government schools.
- Gargi Award and Chief Minister Higher Education Scholarship of up to Rs 1 crore along with financial benefits of Rs 51,000 for a girl child who completes education till Class XII in a government school.
Steps required to eliminate illiteracy in Rajasthan:
- Inclusive Education (proper implementation of RTE2009 and NEP2020)
- Increased investment in government schools (facilities like toilets for female, computers etc. to be provided)
- Vocational Training(option of opting out with a certificate)
- Teacher training (Every year a training session of teachers to be mandatory as envisaged by NEP) increasing the number of qualified teachers.
- Changing social norms (encouraging people to send their wards whether male or female to schools and let them complete their education)