‘The ability to read and write with understanding in any language.’ This is how the constitution of India defines literacy, with the literacy rate being 74.04% according to the 2011 census. The percentage seems good enough for a ‘developing’ country, but one is compelled to question the ‘developing’ status of the country when it is compared to the average literacy rate of the world which is 84%. A difference of nearly 10% makes one wonder, if our country is really developing. In this entire number game, what comes as a shocking revelation is the kind of education system, we claim to be developing with.
Let’s focus on a scenario for instance. A man who can read and write and works as an accountant to earn a living, gets married to a woman who is equally qualified and works as an accountant too. But, this man asks his wife to quit her job because he feels that the primary duty of a married woman is to look after her family and she has no right to aspire for an individual identity. Now, the wife of this man accepts such a biased and illogical demand of her husband and quits her job. She believes that looking after her family and sacrificing her aspirations for the sake of her husband, is what a woman is meant to do, too.
This is the ideology that a literate couple lives by. What is sad is the fact that a huge number of people in the country are only literate but not educated.
An IAS officer asks his wife to get rid of her girl child in the womb. Why? Because he is ‘only’ literate.
An engineer takes domestic violence her stride. Why? Because she is ‘only’ literate.
And who do we blame for this, as citizens of a country that is in grave need of development? Of course, the rote learning that is encouraged in schools and colleges across the nation.
You score 95% in class 12th, get admission in the best college in the country and refuse to befriend a classmate belonging to a lower caste.
You top your college, become a government official of a high rank and refuse to work without a bribe.
Yes, that’s the education system our country has on offer. Or, should I say the system of imparting literacy. Well, all that I want through such remarks is to make clear the difference between literacy and education. Literacy is only the ability to read and write, but education in the true sense of the term is the ability to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right. Education is what makes one rational to make the right choices in life. Education inculcates and aids one in maintaining personal integrity. Education makes one virtuous. Education is what aids one in using his/her ability to read and write in the right direction.
The aim of the education system should be to impart not only literacy but also a wholesome education, the aim of which should be to create responsible citizens who in turn will help in the development of the nation.