Shimla: Even though Himachal Pradesh has made progress in mass education programs, pockets of illiteracy especially among the female population persist mainly in Chamba, Sirmaur and Kullu districts.
Differing from the government views on the subject, Kuldeep Tanwar, president Himachal Gyan Viygan Samithi (HGVS) at a conference call said that to be number one state in literacy, Himachal’s percentage of literate population needed to be pulled upto about 97 percent from the existing 76.5 percent by the end of the 11th Five Year plan.
To mark the International Literacy Day, Tanwar revealed that there was a 18 % gender gap in literacy in the state.Â He said that there were 1332 villages where the literacy rate was below 40 percent and in 237 villages the female literacy rate was less then 10 percent. “In all there were 13 tehsils in Chamba, Kullu and Sirmaur district where the more than half the rural women were totally illiterate,” he said.
Poor economic conditions combined with negligible adult literacy was leading to high drop out rates in some communities, he said adding, that there were 1,243,142 illiterate people in the state of which 497,974 were in the 9 – 45 age group and 715,662 in the over 45 years age group.
By making literacy an inclusive campaign for marginalized groups, the people’s science group thorough HGVS has been involved with the states literacy campaign for the last 20 years, he said. “However, our request to get the Rs 55.84 crore project sanctioned under the national continuing education program has fallen on deaf years of the government,” said Tanwar. This is a central government funded program in which the state would just have to contribute Rs 8.4 crores, but even though the government is spending Rs 1400 crores on formal education systems, it has so far failed to clear this non formal education project that would help to substantially reduce illiteracy levels, he said.
Other campaigns taken up by HGVS include saving the farmers and crops from monkey and wild boar menace and creating awareness about enforcement of pre-natal diagnostic techniques Act (PNDT) to check female infanticide, he said.