Importance of Literacy Rate
When discussing the well-being of any country or state of human development of a country; literacy rate is considered to be one of the key parameters. Disparity between literacy rates across genders, geographies, communities tells government where she needs to focus most. Literacy rate is perfect litmus test of a country’s human development.
But why literacy rate is so important?
One of the key requirements for modern societies to function is our abilities to coordinate and communicate effectively. For example, Government launches a new scheme to provide free polio shots for kids.
Unless the general public understands and appreciates this, the rupees spent on this will not yield anything. The citizens need to be able to read on and understand about the government’s role responsibility and actions. Especially when we talk about democracy, it becomes even more important for the citizens to understand various sides of the argument and choose the best alternative.
Literate vs Educated
Literacy is basically understood as ability to read and write. But is it sufficient? Can a person who can read constitution, understand it?
There is a huge gap between being literate and being educated. The third world countries are often blamed for portraying incorrect picture about literacy rates. As they do not take into account the kind of education the person has received.
Formal Education in India
The formal education in India is divided in 10+2+3 followed by specializations. The first 10 years formal education is common for all, before in +2 students are allowed to choose a stream. +2 does not offer lot of options to diverge, but after 2 years of Intermediate, students are ready to take up specialization course- The Graduation. Graduation normally takes 3 years, but for more technically complex courses like Engineering or medicine, it may take little longer. Post graduation, students are free to choose super-specialization courses- the master’s degree. After Masters, student can go for doctorate (PhD) and so on.
Purpose of Education
For a long time, Indian education system was very formal and people studied on as needed basis. Unless someone had deeper interests in literature or another particular field, the purpose of education was very limited. People learned for their interests, there was no burden.
But then came the British. With Merlo-Minto reforms in early 20th century, the Britishers changed the purpose of education from just education to making people job-ready. While this may sound good, it also made the education just a rat race. People read nowadays just to get a job without exploring their interests or even pursuing their interests.
As a result, such students perform very mediocrely in their jobs, with no passion at all, they just go with the flow without attaining their true potential.
The Indian education system believed in
सा विद्या या विमुक्तये|
This means education is the one that sets us free. In other words, if it is does not set us free, it is not education. And this is where the modern education is failing the humanity. It does not set us free from our doubts, our misbeliefs- it does not make us human.
A concentration camp survivor once said that education does not make the world a better place. The concentration camps and the nuclear bombs were built by some of the brightest minds the world has ever seen. Being a better human being is far too important than anything else.
Role of a “good” education becomes more important in today’s world when it is more fragmented than ever. Democratization of media has created so much noise that differentiating black from white is more difficult and more necessary than ever before. We are using our “education” as a weapon. Such type of education does not set us free; it makes us prisoners of our own devise. If the world has to survive, if the world has to be a happy place we need an education system that frees us, that liberates us. Afterall,
सा विद्या या विमुक्तये|