Marching towards EDUCATION for all

It is essential to provide literacy with professional development opportunities


Literacy is the gateway of lifelong learning leading to the demands of knowledge society. It is necessary to prioritize actual and comprehensive learning over numerical aims if valuable investment is desired. To achieve this, it is essential to provide literacy with professional development opportunities in order to develop sustained linkages between literacy programmes, the interests and felt educational needs of young people, and the community. The literacy initiatives should be the demand of the most excluded sections and also the elite class who suffer at educo-professional planes of their personality. Broadly speaking, literacy is more than deciphering character and is not confined to mere achievement of Reading, Writing and Numeracy. It has four major objectives namely literacy (read and write with comprehension), numeracy (ability to calculate and do daily life operations), functionality (utilizing knowledge for practical purposes) and awareness (application of the skills for the betterment of oneself and the society). Awareness, by the underprivileged, of the reasons for their present deprived status and improving it through participation in the development process is an important implication of functional literacy. As early as 1988, a document on National Literacy Mission (NLM) suggests that the objectives of functional literacy would be achieving self reliance in literacy and numeracy, becoming aware of causes of the deprivation and moving towards amelioration of their condition through organization and participation in the process of development – acquiring skills to improve economic status and general well being, imbibing the values of national integration, conservation of environment and women equality.
The World Literacy Day is observed across the world on September 8th every year to commemorate the outstanding contribution of one famous Danish educationist namely Nikolai Fredrick Severin Grundtvig (1783 – 1872) in the field of literacy which became a source of guidance for educationists, adult educators, planners, field functionaries, volunteers, social activists and others who are deeply immersed in community development, skill enhancement, professional rehabilitation of  the youth and national responsibility. He put forward the idea that the years after 18 are those of awakening to life which inspired the founding and establishment of famous Residential Folk High Schools (RFHS) in Denmark which provided platform to the youth to learn, educate themselves, share with others, oral communication of ideas through dialogue, discussion, interaction and conversation. The flexibility, adaptability, quality of endeavours of these folk schools proved instrumental in meeting the material and social needs of farming community and more importantly modernizing the agriculture. The rise of RFHS movement made possible the producer cooperative institutions in Denmark which became a guideline for other countries to follow. The RFHS movement aimed to open the eyes of youth to the wealth of spiritual life and fit them for civic and democratic responsibilities. The schools were uniquely suited to the socio cultural economic and political circumstances of its time. It was in the main stream of the strong movement to restore Danish self confidence by encouraging nationalist ideas. These schools developed a holistic perspective on transformative literacy insisting on inclusive growth of every section of the society. The non formal mode of initiatives in motivating, mobilizing and involving the people in dynamic initiatives through literacy made the succeeding generations to observe September 8th (the birthday of Grundtvig also known as  “father of folk high schools”) as world literacy day to uproot and eradicate illiteracy across the globe.
The real development of a nation is to be assessed in terms of meaningful participation of the masses or mass involvement in multiple social, economic and political processes of the country and the resultant benefits arise out of the participatory approach. However, the manifestation of inadequate participation in the developmental endeavours and initiatives created incompatible conditions among the people for generating a culture of development and made them mute and passive spectators. Precisely, illiteracy – the root of contemporary underdevelopment, is the major handicap which narrows down vision of citizens to play an effective role and their participation in welfare programmes. It should be mass national endeavour and effort to infuse the importance of literacy in collective psyche of the people as a permanent individual, social and national necessity to promote conducive learning environment. This will virtually enable and empower the people to express their ideas, feelings, thoughts, perceptions and opinions freely and break the barriers of alienation, isolation and marginalization. Obviously, it would change the outlook and bring a glow of liberation in the dark and bleak existence of the people. The writings of Noble Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen have shed new light on literacy for real freedom. It according to him has powerful effect on the quality of life, freedom to enjoy, understanding the world to communicate and to interact with each other.
The observance of world literacy day on September 8th rejuvenates and stimulates all stake holders to work in a collective fashion for unreached and marginalized sections of the society. The Directorate of Lifelong Learning University of Kashmir, besides plethora of other activities has been organizing special functions on September 8th. This time the directorate is organizing a grand event of ‘a road march’ on September 8th 2011at Ganderbal involving different schools, and the community, with a central focus on functional literacy under the title Marching ahead – “Education for all”.

Dr. G H Mir works at DLL University of Kashmir. He can be reached at

Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST

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