Yesterday the World saw its 54th Literacy day and I recalled few words by Mahatma Gandhi which says, ‘Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning of it.’ And I went on finding the relevance of it.

As per data says, the average literacy rate of India is 69.1%. Whereas Rural India has 64.7% of approximate literate people and Urban India is 79.5% literate. Which also faces gender disparities. From 2011 census figures, the literacy rate of men in India was 80.9% whereas for females it was only 64.6%. And not just reading and writing, but the gap in female education affects the social challenges such as, ‘use of contraceptives’, ‘family planning’, ‘low economic growth of females’, etc.

We also need to dig this into grass root level that the word ‘literate’ only means ‘the ability to read and write for individuals, communities, and societies’. Whereas talking Literacy with the perspective of Education is still far away.

In the 73 years of India’s independence, every government has come up with many new programs and schemes to cross the barriers and reach at the top level with other 26 countries who own the flagship of 100% literacy rate. Then either it is Mid-day meal, Samagra Siksha or Sakshaar Bharat.

But in the context of literacy has to do only with the number game? Is the ability to read and write enough, to accomplish the ‘Dream Nation’ our ancestors and freedom fighters have always dreamed of? And is it time yet to let literacy join hands with education which shall help every single individual of this nation to lead a life of dignity?

The fundamental right, The Right to Education says that every single individual of this country, young or old, 6 years of age or 86 years old has every right to take education and shall not just learn how to read or write but educate self by which character is formed, strength of the mind is increased, intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s feet, Exactly how Swamy Vivekananda has explained.

Let us hope that in coming years we as a developing country not just grow infrastructural wise but find ourselves successful in building the infrastructure of our minds through right education. And then literacy would just be a number.

-Sagarika Patil