The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Naidu, Modi win literacy race

New Delhi, Sept. 5: What do Chandrababu Naidu and Narendra Modi have in common'

Both head states that have chalked up impressive literacy figures, going by latest census figures whose accuracy has been questioned by experts.

Pleased with the chief ministers’ performance, human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi has asked the duo to be guests of honour at a function to mark International Literacy Day on Monday.

Joshi has also invited Mayavati even though Uttar Pradesh, which she headed until last month, is a literacy laggard.

Andhra Pradesh has achieved 75.96 per cent literacy among males and 54.28 among women. The corresponding figures for Gujarat are 80.50 and 58.60 per cent. The national literacy average is 65.38 per cent.

“There are historical reasons for Gujarat’s performance,” says Sanjiv Kaura of the National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education, a network of organisations working in primary education. “In Andhra’s case, certain districts are bad but there has been overall progress…,” he adds.

But educationists disagree on the definition of literacy. “The census computes literacy in a manner we do not. For instance, the person collecting census data asks the head of the family how many literate people there are in the family. They do not actually test their literacy skills,” Kaura says.

Samir Jha, an education activist from Bihar, raises doubts about Joshi’s intentions.

“The invitations are not (based) just on performance. Joshi wants to score brownie points with these chief ministers who are most feted by the Vajpayee government,” Jha says.

Joshi will also be awarding individuals and organisations from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh for doing commendable work, even though many districts in these states have literacy levels of less than 50 per cent.

Email This Page