As India leaps into the future with a high thrust on literacy and skill development, the government felt the need to ensure no person of any agegroup remains deprived of education. So, the Indian government has launched a new programme called the New India Literacy Programme which will cater to “Education for All” under the National Education Policy in the period 2022-27. Earlier, the term used was “Adult Education”but the government modified it to “Education for All”to make it more inclusive.

According to the 2011 census, the number of non-literates in India above the age of 15 years was 25.76 crores which involved approximately 9.1 crore males and 16.7 crore females. The Saakshar Bharat programme not-withstanding, India is estimated to have an illiterate adult population of 18 crores approx.
The New India Literacy Programme is set to cover all non-literates above 15 years across the country and the mode of delivery is set to be online and self-enrolling. The government intends to cover five crore learners at one crore for each year in the 2022-27 period through the “Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment System (OTLAS).” The learner will just need to register in the programme using his name, gender, Aadhar number and a number of trained volunteers are set to be involved for fastening the process. These volunteers will be manually trained and provided with digital resources.

The programme targets foundational literacy and numeracy that is vital for any person in the 21stCentury technological world. It will include critical life skills such as health, child-care, family welfare, finance, etc. It will also involve basic educational requirements that are imparted in the primary and secondary schools and also include voluntary education for employment.

Elaborating on this, a senior Ministry of Education official said, “the objectives of the scheme is to impart not only foundational literacy and numeracy but also to cover other components which are necessary for a citizen of 21st Century such as critical life skills including financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health care and awareness, child care and education, and family welfare); vocational skills development with a view towards obtaining local employment); basic education including preparatory, middle, and secondary stage equivalency. And continuing education including engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, technology, culture, sports, and recreation, as well as other topics of interest or use to local learners, such as more advanced material on critical life skills.”

On the operational aspect, the programme will use schools as the primary centers for training volunteers, and surveying the beneficiaries. A set of critical life skills will be charted for imparting to the non-literates and a Performance Grading Index will be maintained at the district level. Apart from this, the programme will be open to Corporate Social Responsibility by the companies which will be used for Information and Communication technology incorporation and training of volunteers.

The literacy programme based on “education for all” is universal in its approach inside India and it shows the government’s seriousness to reach the last person and the last mile in addressing disabilities. Mental Disability in the form of illiteracy in the 21stCentury is seen as a challenge to development as it perpetuates poverty. The Narendra Modi government’s last-mile approach in governance is crucial for the prosperity of all and this will ready India for future challenges. This programme has and will be used by many other developing countries at their respective stages of development too. The valuable learnings from this programme will be a crucial insight for governments across the globe.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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