How education startups are helping India’s literacy rate get better
Literacy in India is imminent for its socio-economic development. The rate of literacy in India has increased to 74.04 per cent in the year 2015 from 64.83 per cent in 2001. Recent surveys have confirmed that literacy skills are linked to the socio-economic status and level of deprivation, with those from more deprived areas achieving lower scores. In primary education, those from more deprived areas often fail to reach even basic standards of literacy. This continues into secondary, coming to the fore in the later stages of school based learning.
As the world celebrates 50th International Literacy Day under the banner ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future’, let us look at how and what is the state of literacy and the measures being taken by education entrepreneurs to improve the literacy rates in India.
Literacy in India
As per the latest Census 2011 report, the illiteracy rate in India is 22 per cent. As per UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, India is expected to achieve universal primary education in 2050, universal lower secondary education in 2060 and universal upper secondary education in 2085. Kerala is the most literate state with 93.91 per cent, Lakshadweep at 92.28 per cent, Mizoram at 91.58 per cent, Tripura at 87.75 percent and Goa at 87.40 percent
Bihar and Telangana have the lowest literacy with only 63.82 percent and 66.50 percent literate people respectively. In 2014, the literacy rate of India increased by 10 percent. Illiteracy is mostly prevalent in the rural India.
Steps towards improvement
Improvements cannot be confined to a particular sector or point in a learner’s journey. Literacy development starts from birth. Early years settings and schools develop children and young people’s basic and advanced literacy skills. In adulthood, the ongoing development of literacy skills helps to advance personal achievements, employment prospects and participation in society.
Many NGOs have come up with the mission to improve the literacy rates in India. Many of these NGOs are started by the corporate organisations as a part of their CSR activity.
According to Manish Sisodia, the Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister of Delhi, “There is a huge gap in Indian education system. A recent study shows that many children studying in class 2 are unable to read their textbooks. Similar is a case for class 6 students.” He calls for education entrepreneurs to step in and fill this gap, thus, contributing towards increasing the literacy rates of India.
Edupreneurs with the motive of increasing literacy should be encouraged and certain relaxations like those of taxes need to be extended. Many startups have emerged which are leading to increased rate if literacy in India. Let’s take a look at some.
Unitus Seed Fund
Unitus Seed Fund has made its education-sector investment in Hippocampus Learning Centers, a for-profit BoP Startup that’s already improving the education of children across 80 villages in south India. They actively seek additional entrepreneurs across India who have plans for scalable and affordable educational services or products that will help India’s children get the education they deserve.
Chennai-based Classle, an online education startup, uses cloud, mobile and social networks to allow students to access learning materials pertaining to their academics, free of cost. It has partnered with engineering colleges predominantly in the rural areas to take this platform to rural students.
Sudhiksha Knowledge Solutions
Sudiksha identifies educated women in the community and train them to run preschools. This way, they also encouragee entrepreneurship among the women in the community
With over five lakh posts of primary teachers lying vacant in government schools across the country, the Union Human Resource Development Ministry has decided to address this “serious issue” as early as possible. The approaches used by practitioners and educational establishments to raise standards in literacy must also be evaluated in terms of their effectiveness. It is only through this reflection that we will be able to identify approaches which are successful, and those which need to be refined or changed.