“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”– Nelson Mandela, South African Freedom Fighter
Education during the pandemic for all students of the world has been disrupted. Nelson Mandela’s words were true years ago and will continue as the guiding principle for millions more yet to come. The key to creating a better world comes from establishing a sustainable community; where acquiring education and literacy is an essential indicator of attaining human capital.
As per the data consensus report, in India the adult literacy rate for the 2019 year stands at 73.2%. Although the country has significantly progressed over the years in terms of de-stigmatizing the literacy as a human right, it continues to go unrecognized to many uneducated individuals. The main reason that illiteracy prevails in India is attributed to a variety of factors such as the social, economic, and cultural linkages. Moreover, the educational gender gap between men and women is quite prevalent in the country. The existential bias is one of the major explanations of an economy with no substantial progress.
To effectively support the bridges of education and literacy, there needs to be room for reflection so that individuals are able to think outside of the box. Improving literacy rates and the quality of education worldwide will become increasingly beneficial because they presently reflect the human capital crisis. This is usually followed by a huge variation in the unemployment regime and, as such, new policies are needed to help establish a clear link between literacy and education.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope”. In order to survive in modern society, individuals require an education to fight poverty and build roads towards development. Economist Shamika Ravi added that people with secondary-school or higher education are less likely to be employed than those without an education. Upon reflection of such a statement, it is suggested that there is no difference between an educated person and an uneducated person.
The 2030 skills scorecard by the global business coalition for education has reinforced the above-mentioned concerns highlighting that India as a country will have the highest number of secondary school graduates in South Asia, but around half of whom will lack the vital skills needed to enter the job market. As such, there is an unequivocal imbalance between the country and its educational system. In order to solve the problem of illiteracy, the discourse surrounding its policy needs to be amended to ensure that the economic and social development of individuals is placed first. Literacy is not only valuable, but it is crucial to education; as without knowing how to read and write, illiterate people miss out on the opportunity to live a better life and contribute to their nation’s growth.
In setting solutions to the existent problems, there needs to be an adequate framework consisting of teachers and resources dedicated to the cause. Increasing literacy rates should not be an end for people but a means for an opportunity. – Dyuti Pandya
In India, the education system is classified into formal and non-formal sectors. The formal sector is regulated by the government and a public educational body called the Union Grants Commission (UGC ). They are responsible for overlooking elementary education, secondary education, and higher education. The non-formal sector is an unstructured educational implementation that has been invested with incomes and a willingness to splurge on an educational system that the governmental sector cannot provide. It has also been noted that the education system is centred on a conventional and unambitious curriculum focused on competition rather than learning.
In most government schools, a significant number of teachers are absent but yet receive salaries because of the electoral politics prevailing therein. This increases the dropout rate among students due to poor learning outcomes. Almost 50% of the students whose parents can barely afford the fees to enroll their children in private schools are expecting a high standard of education and teaching. Higher education exists under an underlying belief that it thrives on private players in the market solving the crisis in providing a good education. It shuts the door to students that are unable to fund an adequate education.
In such a manner, education has become a business where public universities are living under a curtain of patronage, ideology, of their own vested interests suppressing creativity and accountability. Furthermore, the total foreign direct investment inflow into the education sector stands at $3.24 Billion USD, but this does not amount to the changes required for education. Expenditure has fallen by 3.2 % in 2020-2021 under the current government power, and will further be reduced by at least 40% with the ongoing crisis. The current ratio of GDP has contracted and resulted in a -23.9% in the first quarter and will create a huge problem when it comes to financing educational institutions and providing employment. A country’s economy is only enhanced when learners have a high ratio of literacy levels. As the international community moves towards a new global order and amid a new technocratic society, it’s essential that individuals are encouraged to expand their knowledge and skills in order to keep up with a changing world.
On this note, the words by Kofi Annan echo forth:“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy, and sustainable human development.”
During the ongoing pandemic, these words provide hope and encourage us to continue advocating for the cause.
Written by Dyuti Pandya
Dyuti Pandya is currently a final year law student from Mumbai, India. She is one of the youth ambassadors for the World Literacy Foundation from India. She is also part of the advanced leadership team for Students for Liberty South Asia where she serves as their academics coordinator. Besides being active in advocating for liberty, literacy, and animal rights, she enjoys learning about art and different cultures around the world, She loves reading and spending time with her