23 Sep :Smt. D.Purandeswari, Minister of State for Human Resource Development (Higher Education), has said that 11th Five Year Plan incorporates the notion of life long education. She said this while addressing the White House symposium on “Advancing Global Literacy; Building a Foundation for freedom” hosted by Mrs Laura Bush in New York, USA, during early hours of today.
The symposium was chaired by Mrs. Bush and attended to by 200 dignitaries from all over the world. She further said that this inclusion has facilitated a very significant reassessment of the programme: from the earlier sequential and fragmented approach of basic literacy The National Literacy Mission is developing a series of instruments/ models to facilitate this process.
Following is the full text of Smt. Purandeswari’s address:-
“I deem it a great privilege and honour to be invited as a featured speaker at this symposium on “Advancing Global Literacy: Building a Foundation for Freedom” in this world renowned city of New York. I understand that the purpose of this symposium is to encourage subsidized global and country – level leadership in the promotion of literacy.
As you are all aware, basic education, within which literacy is the key learning tool, was recognized as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over 50 years ago. At the Millennium Development Summit held in New York in 2000, world leaders agreed on a global partnership to work collectively for eradicating poverty, hunger, disease, ignorance and improving the lives of people. They adopted specific goals. One of the Millennium Development Goals is the achievement of universal primary education by 2015 which is only seven years away from now.
The United Nations has estimated that there are still 774 million illiterate people in the world. This is, indeed, a very large number – almost equal to the combined population of the US and the European Union.
This reminds us that we are way behind the targets of Global Literacy and therefore we must renew our efforts more vigorously to achieve our accepted goal of universal literacy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Education and literacy are the very foundations of all human development and growth. Literacy confers a host of benefits – social economic and political – all of which taken together gives a complete empowerment to human beings. But more than that, education and literacy enhance an individual’s self esteem and confidence levels. As Swami Vivekananda, India’s leading patriot-saint observed: and I quote.
“Real education is that by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s own feet”
But to achieve this status, literacy should not be confined merely to signing one’s name or learning a few letters of alphabet.
There is need for that literacy, which does not view learners as passive recipients of information or enables them to mechanically decode the alphabet. Literacy learning must provide learners the space and time to come together to reflect upon, and to understand their positions and, through this process of reflection and articulation, generate organizational energy and catalyze social action.
We should aim at ushering this paradigm shift in the concept of literacy.
Shortly after the Regional Conference held last year, the National Development Council, presided over by the Prime Minister of India, and attended by Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of States, approved the 11th Five Year Plan for the country. I am glad to say that the 11th Plan outlay for Adult Education, fixed at 1.5 billion dollars, represents a very significant enhancement over the combined outlays of 715 million dollars for the 8th, 9th and 10th Plan periods.
I am also happy to inform that India’s 11th Five Year Plan incorporates the notion of lifelong education. This inclusion has facilitated a very significant reassessment of the programme: from the earlier sequential and fragmented approach of basic literacy The National Literacy Mission is developing a series of instruments/ models to facilitate this process.
We recognise that there are areas in the country – educationally deprived and isolated – where volunteers may not be available within the village for teaching, because the overall levels of education within that village or area may be very low. These areas would be provided specially trained instructors, from outside the community. The instructors will be especially chosen for their sensitivity to issues of gender and caste equality, and their commitment to constitutional values of democracy and secularism. In India, we are committed to providing a second chance to young adults and adolescents who lost the opportunity for formal schooling. We have observed that wherever positive stimulation has been provided, adolescents have, undoubtedly, done us proud.
In the new approach to Continuing and Lifelong Education as contemplated in the 11th V year Plan, we are trying inter alia to ensure:
* That literacy is combined with skills for the enhancement of livelihood security and purchasing power provided for rural people under India’s new legislation, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,
* That literacy is synergised with the determinants of good health, namely nutrition, sanitation, hygiene and safe drinking water under the National Rural Health Mission,
* That literacy is incorporated with political empowerment, particularly of women elected to local self governments,
* That literacy reinforces and augments India’s nation-wide campaign for Right to Information and through that process leads to an informed citizenry, crucial to any democracy.
* And that literacy is intrinsically linked with universalisation of elementary education of equitable quality, so that the fresh flow of illiteracy is arrested.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Literacy is an indispensable component of human resource development and literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision making, personal empowerment, and participation in the local and global community. Literacy readiness is also necessary to carry forward the national agenda and to contribute productively to a knowledge based society. Literacy should, therefore be an article of faith for all of us and we must continue our endeavours with full vigour and commitment.
In this context may I refer to the following inspiring observations made by Mrs Sonia Gandhi in her address to the fourth UNESCO Regional Conference in support of Global Literacy held in New Delhi last year. I quote.
Through the instrument of literacy and education for all, let us work together to ensure that societies remain enriched by the best traditions of their own heritage and yet remain open to the light of science and progressive thought and that our societies are freed from poverty, from prejudice; from oppression, discrimination, inequality and violence.”