There is enough evidence to show that there is a significant correlation between literacy and various indications of development, i.e. health level, economic prosperity, high per capita income, low infant morality rate, low incidence of violence, and higher utilization of available resources. This shows that higher literacy can accelerate development.
The impact of adult literacy has been felt in rural areas the most. Many students of schools and colleges in nearby towns and cities have been regularly visiting the villages and taking part in the adult education programmes with the help of the school/college authorities and village Panchayats. They have been taking classes in houses or other convenient public places teaching the villagers how to read and write Hindi and/or other local language.
They have been also teaching them counting and simple arithmetic including adding, subtraction, multiplying, etc. As an incentive, the villagers are given books, note books, pencils, pens and even bags.
This has brought a great change in the villagers who have received such education. Many among them have started reading newspaper daily. This way they have come to know about the major happenings in the country as well as their state. They very enthusiastically share the news they have read, with other villagers while sitting at the chopal. The awareness level of the villagers has increased.
They are able to learn about the programmes and plans of the leaders of different parties when the elections are near. Thus, they are in a better position to judge which party and candidate to be given the vote in the election. The foundations of democracy which are based on vigilant people are being strengthened.
Those who have learnt to write, now write letters and post cards to their nears and dears living in other cities. This has established a communication channel between them with letters and responses.
The emotional satisfaction and happiness, which a person gets after receiving a letter from his son, daughter, brother, sister or other close relatives also impacts positively on people’s psyche. A happy and healthy mind is always efficient in work. This also reduces domestic violence. Through education people have been able to discard some social evils. By reading articles and messages in the newspaper, many of them have given up drinking, gambling, etc. They have abandoned orthodox views and started acknowledging the fact that girl child is as important as a son. Such a change in society certainly bodes well for our society and its well-being.
By learning to count and simple arithmetic, the adults who had to depend on others to keep their account, have now started to take care of their finances themselves. This has saved them from exploitation. It has become easier for them to go to a bank, deposit or withdraw money and know the position of their accounts. Some villagers who have started using Kisan Credit Card facility are better equipped to take advantage thereof to improve their lot. The local moneylenders are not able to exploit the villagers because they now know the principal amount borrowed, if any, and interest thereon.
The inter-state comparison brings out the relationship between literacy rate and demographic indicators, i.e. birth rate, annual exponential growth of population, infant mortality rate. The BIMARU states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are comparatively backward because adult literacy programme has not been implemented with as much enthusiasm as in some other states like Gujarat, Maharashtra who have shown great socio-economic improvement during the last decade or so.
Female education is an important aspect of adult education. Many of the recipients of this programme are women. Studies have shown that in states where women have received education, not only the rate of growth of population has been checked, the infant mortality rate has reduced, sex ratio has improved, the girl child has got proper attention. Generally, after acquiring education, the status of women in society has improved. They have become conscious of their rights and refused to be at the receiving end of male chauvinism at home and in society. Many women have formed self-help groups and received micro-finance to start some small enterprise to supplement the income of the family.
There are several constraints in the implementation of the adult education programme. India is a vast country with a large population. Millions of people in several parts are illiterate. There are not enough volunteers to cover the large illiterate sections. The volunteers available are not willing to go the remote areas. Difficult terrain and inclement weather are other constraints. There is no infrastructure like schools, class rooms and other required articles like blackboard, notebooks and other stationery items in several villages. The villagers are too poor to afford these articles.
The volunteers are given no incentives to take up this cause enthusiastically. Most of adults are shy and hesitant. They are not willing to come forward to sit in a class room like small children. Social restrictions for girls and ladies in some areas and communities often thwart the efforts to start this progamme in some areas. Notwithstanding these constraints, the adult literacy progamme has been successfully implemented in various parts of the country. Millions of adults have received this education and learnt how to have a better control over their lives.