People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 06, 2010




Literacy Promoters Parliament March

Evokes Good Response


P Jayarajan



KERALA Saksharatha Prerak (Literacy Promoters) Association had organised a parliament march demanding the allocation of sufficient central funds for continuing the education programme in Kerala. The march to the parliament also demanded the withdrawal of the direction of the national literacy mission to put an end to the services of the literacy promoters in the state. The leaders of the association including P Karunakaran MP, P Jayarajan and C P Narayanan also met and discussed with D Purandeswari, minister of state for human resource development on the significant questions that the continuing education programme in the state confronts.


The central government has allocated Rs 6,000 crore for the non-formal education during the eleventh plan period. This is a big increase while compared with Rs 1200 crore allocated during the 10th plan period. On the basis of this fact, the government of Kerala has demanded the central government to allocate at least Rs 100 crore for non-formal education sector in the state. This amount is in fact a meagre amount which is less than 2 per cent of the total allocation. Without considering these facts, the central government has neglected the Kerala state’s demand and restrained to sanction any amount for the non-formal education. Above all, the central government also directed the state saksharatha mission (literacy mission) to shut down all continuing education centres throughout Kerala and to stop the service of all saksharatha preraks, voluntary workers and other activists oriented towards the objectives of continuing the education programme


‘Sakshar Bharathi’ which was declared by the president of India is a national programme that aims to school the illiterates. The program aims to educate 365 selected districts of our country having female illiteracy rate of more than 50 per cent by considering each district as a unit.  Hence it is clear that the state of Kerala which had accomplished the target of complete literacy will not be benefited by this programme. In April 1991 itself, Kerala was declared as a complete literacy state as a result of the intensive efforts of the people’s literacy movement. At that juncture 12, 21,695 persons were declared as literate. Such a dream of complete literacy has materialised because of the relentless efforts and voluntary services of almost 3.5 lakhs of activists.


The continuing of this education programme for neo literates later started in 1998. Equivalency Programme has been designed by Kerala State Literacy Mission to facilitate the neo literates to qualify themselves at par with those who finish formal education and has accordingly been  introduced in 2000 and hence 1,32,000 neo literates passed the fourth standard equivalency examination till date. As a result of this mission, about 23,000 and 62,854 literate people have passed the seventh standard and tenth standard equivalency examinations respectively. Even the prisoners from the jails of Kerala have benefited by this continuing education opportunity and they have scored good marks in the examinations. This task for neo literates to pursue their education could help Kerala to improve and develop its human resources. Presently, nearly three thousand literacy promoters (preraks) are working in Kerala. They are working on a very meagre remuneration. The present wages for promoters and assistant promoters are Rs 900 and Rs 700 respectively. National Literacy Mission has now directed to put an end to the services of these voluntary activists which is highly objectionable.


Presently there are nearly 70,000, 27,000 and 30,000 neo literates studying in the fourth, seventh and tenth grade equivalency examinations respectively. While the central government declined to allocate any financial assistance to the state, the LDF government in Kerala in its present budget had allotted Rs Eight crore for continuing this education programme. This budget allocation has extended a great relief to the state literacy mission to continue with their unrivalled effort.  The LDF government has decided to improve the functioning of state literacy mission effectively. The plan is to revise the literacy program as a lifelong activity. The efforts and support extended by the local self governing bodies to strengthen the education programme are commendable. Permanent building and infrastructure facilities for continuing the education centres are provided by these local self governing bodies.


Kerala after attaining total literacy is now developing such a remarkable achievement by strengthening the continuing education programme for the neo literates. But the central government instead of encouraging such an effort unfortunately punishes the state for realising total literacy target in advance compared to the other states.   It is the responsibility of the central government to assist the state government to take ahead the real goal of literacy “beyond letters”.  And thus   the central government has to make proportional allocations to the state to strengthen the true target of literacy.


(The writer is the president, Kerala Saksharatha Prerak Association and a member of the CPI(M) Kerala State Committee)