On August 15, we all shall fly our Tricolour and celebrate once again that our country is a Sovereign, Secular Democratic Republic as envisaged by our Freedom Fighters and makers of India. But somewhere, there is a bit of ugly feeling that many of our fellow citizens are not having the basic Roti, Kapada , Makan and, above all, ajeevika.
We also have many people still illiterate, especially our women. Female literacy in the state, according to the 2011 census, is 65.46% while male literacy rate is over 80%. Female literacy among Scheduled tribes in Odisha is even lower at 42.5%- much below the national average. .
Despite having Total Literacy campaigns and many other kinds of efforts, the percentage of female literacy has not significantly improved. In the entire country, female literacy has always needed special attention and hence Saakshar Bharat Programme has been launched with a lot of hope and positive visualisation.
The Government and Civil Society Organisations have been seriously engaged but can we set another example in the country and in the world that our female literacy rate is comparable to the developed countries?
The National Literacy Mission has designed a Literacy Flag and has formulated a pledge so that after hoisting the National Flag, the Literacy Flag is hoisted in every Gram Panchayat and men and women take the pledge.
All of us who are concerned with the issues of low female literacy must hoist the Literacy Flag and take a pledge to make all women literate and send all the girls to school.
Adult Literacy for the poor and toiling masses has been visualised by leading thinkers and practitioners like Mahatma Gandhi, Antonio Gramsci and Paulo Freire. They have demonstrated that empowerment and literacy go hand in hand in breaking the shackles of poverty and marginalisation.
On Independence Day, we have to revisit the Pedagogy of the Oppressed and evolve suitable strategies to combat illiteracy in the changing contexts of our society.