Literacy is more that the ability to read and write and its capacity to empower should never be forgotten, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor said Tuesday. "It is important to recognise that literacy is not only the ability to read and write, but is also the exposure to learning of high quality, and enabling of capacity so that it becomes a way towards equal opportunity and empowerment, and improved livelihoods," he said. "How empowering literacy is should never be forgotten," he added, while speaking at the launch of the Maulana Azad Taleem-e-Balighan at the India Islamic Cultural Centre here.
The programme has been designed by the National Literacy Mission Authority (NLMA) with a special focus to enhance functional literacy, basic education, vocational training and continued education among Muslim adults. The scheme, to be launched in 410 Sakshar Bharat districts, intends to provide opportunities to upscale basic education in around 2.5 lakh Muslim adults and imparting livelihood skills training covering around 3 lakh beneficiaries. Calling the low literacy rate (59.1 percent) among Muslims "alarming", Tharoor said it is a call for measures to empower them. "The literacy gap is a significant factor in the low socio-economic indicators that afflict this large and vital segment of our population," he said.
"Any society that seeks progress, equality in education opportunities among its citizens plays and will continue to play a crucial role," he added. Speaking at the event, Jagmohan Singh Raju, joint secretary (adult education) and director general, NLMA said the scheme is important as the Muslim population comprises 15 percent of the total non-literate population. "We need to work in coordination with the community, as only they can help in the scheme's implementation, to make it a success," he said.