This year’s International Literacy Day has once again brought focus on the significant role of educators in the changing world with education being severely impacted by the pandemic.
Significance of International Literacy Day
UNESCO in 1966 declared September 8 as International Literacy Day with the objective to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts toward more literate societies.
International Literacy Day 2020 theme ‘Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’ focuses on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. It points out literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective with focus on youth and adults. The United Nations says that the COVID-19 crisis has been a stark reminder of the existing gap between policy discourse and reality. A gap that already existed in pre-COVID era and negatively affects the learning of youth and adults, who have no or low literacy skills, and thus tend to face multiple disadvantages. The world body brings to the fore that during COVID-19, adult literacy programmes, in many countries, were absent in the initial education response plans. And most adult literacy programmes that did exist were suspended. International Literacy Day 2020 provides an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programmes to face the pandemic and beyond, says the UN.
India has a decent overall literary rate of 77.7 per cent. According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) survey, once again Kerala, with 96.2 per cent literacy, leads its counterparts as the most literate state in the country. Delhi is at second position with 88.7 per cent and Uttarakhand ranks third at 87.6 per cent.
However, what needed to be addressed is the gender and urban-rural divide. India’s male literacy rate stands at 84.7 per cent while the female literacy rate is 70.3 per cent. Moreover, the urban population rate is 87.7 per cent compared to the rural regions which has 73.5 per cent literacy rate. The most noted gender divide can be observed in Rajasthan as its male literacy rate is 80.8 per cent while the females have 57.6 per cent. Most of the states have a gender gap which needs to be addressed with proper policy at the state and central government level as well as awareness.